When Detroit filed for bankruptcy last month, it wasn’t much of a surprise. With its boarded-up houses, abandoned schools, declining public services and shrinking population, it had become the country’s most depressing city. At least, that’s how it looked to outsiders.
The good news about Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, though, is that it was like hitting rock bottom. Where could the city go from there, but up?
In starting over, Detroit is finally in an optimistic position. Play things right, and it could reinvent itself into the city of the future with smarter economic engines, a modern workforce and public services tailored to city needs.
For anyone who’s ever envisioned the perfect city, Detroit offers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.
And actually, Detroit’s recovery may already be underway. “What we are seeing is a network of philanthropic and business leaders coming together to revive that core of the city,” said Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute in a recent interview with NPR’s “Fresh Air.”
“Something exciting is happening off the platform of what I could call good bones, good assets, older iconic historic buildings. I see energy and pragmatism and an affirmative vision stemming from the core of that city,” Katz said.
So, too, does Iain Lanivich. The creative director of Lowe Campbell Ewald recently announced via YouTube that his company, the ad agency Lowe Campbell Ewald, would move more than 600 employees to Detroit.
In the video, titled “We’re Moving to Detroit, and So Should You,” Lanivich makes the case that Detroit is a hotbed for “creativity, innovation and inspiration.”
“Create what you want to do here,” he says in his pitch, seemingly aimed at entrepreneurs and start-up business owners -- otherwise known as the sort of people who think big and are brave enough to take risks. “In Detroit, you have the opportunity not just to make a product, but to define the city’s future.”
I hope his pitch works -- and that the city’s new business leaders also bring the good people of Detroit into the fold. Like the city, its people deserve a promising new beginning.