There’s No Place Like Detroit — April 5, 2013

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DETROIT (WWJ) — One thing I will never apologize for is being a Detroit booster. I’ve lived Downtown for 26 years. I run on the riverfront and walk my dog, Chrissy, there. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know some of Detroit’s great treasures. However, I am not a naïve booster. I’ve witnessed Detroit’s challenges firsthand from a business and personal view and know there is still much to do before our city is once again clean, safe and inviting.

There are opportunities galore and businesses and many under the radar groups are making a huge difference.

Friday is Opening Day for the Tigers … a perfect opportunity to show off Detroit, what’s already been done to transform it and share our vision for the future.

One of those visions comes from the Ilitch family with its plan to build a new Red Wings stadium and add more retail, shopping and residential space around Foxtown and beyond. In short, the plan will be strategically located to serve some of the most underutilized areas in Detroit’s Downtown core and provide a continuous, walkable environment that connects one district to the next.

That dovetails perfectly with the visionary placemaking plan Rock Ventures, the Downtown Detroit Partnership and the Detroit Economic Corporation unveiled last week. That plan will activate six Downtown Detroit districts from Hart Plaza to Grand Circus Park. Together they will take huge steps toward transforming Downtown.

Look a little further north and you’ll see great working being done in New Center. For example, U-Haul is restoring the 90-plus-year-old, seven-story National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) building at on W. Baltimore St. It’ll open later this year as a full-service moving and storage center.

There is much more but all of it will be overshadowed unless the safety concerns are addressed and fixed. Again businesses have stepped up. The $8 million program to provide 100 new police cars and 23 new ambulances to bolster Detroit’s fleet, led by Roger Penske in collaboration with Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Kresge Foundation and Platinum Equity is one example. Another is the Lighthouse Project. It’s a neighborhood watch program created in collaboration with the Detroit Police Department and more than 35 businesses Downtown. These businesses display lighthouse logos and banners on their buildings identifying them as a safe haven to assist those in need.

All of this makes Detroit more attractive to the more than 200 people Strategic Staffing Solutions placed in jobs over the last three months. We could place 50 more tomorrow if we could find people with the right skills. We need people who can design mobile apps and more people who can work in Java. That’s right, Java. They don’t seem to be teaching much of that in college anymore, even though people with that skill can find a job anywhere in the world. We want them in Detroit. There’s a lot to offer here.

Go Tigers! World Series here we come!

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