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The Brookings Plan for Detroit

Next Thursday, some 150 city leaders, business types, activists, planners, and educators will gather to discuss the future of Detroit with experts from the Brookings Institute, the Washington, DC think tank. It should be a lively session: moderated by TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel and Bruce Katz, Brookings' director of metropolitan policy, the discussion will be led by panelists Mayor Dave Bing, Carol Goss, CEO of the Skillman Foundation, and Steve Hamp, chairman of the New Economy Initiative. Katz, with Jennifer Bradley, wrote a piece in the December issue of the New Republic outlining the basics of a plan forward for the metropolitan area. And guess what? They're hopeful; after all, they write, if Belfast can come back, why not Detroit?

Belfast received the same sort of hammer blow from globalization as Detroit, but it now has steady job growth after decades of losses.

That's just the beginning of the unusual, helpful comparisons. Katz and Bradley cite Bilbao, Leipzig, and especially Turin, the home of Italian auto manufacturing, as examples for Detroit to follow. Like others, the authors believe a revival will take at least a decade, and they believe that there's no recovery without a considerable bailout from Washington.

The article's a sober, cautious piece. But for me it raises a central question: How long can Detroit wait to adopt a clear roadmap forward? Mayor Bing is trying to set the city's budget right first, obviously. But even if the end goal is 20 years off, don't Detroiters need a vision of where they're headed?

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  • 1

    Problem is, Detroit does not have a credible Planner nor a Credible Planning Commission.

    It all died after Charles Blessing retired.

    And Bing does not know what a Credible Planner is.

    Sticking someone in there from Walbridge smacks of the Kwame days.

  • 2

    Too bad the photographer from Life Mag did not take photos of WSU or the Detroit Medical Center, the Art Center.

    These were accomplished through Careful Planning.

    So what are we going to see...Lawyers and Politician expounding?

    The Frank Gehry Guggenheim Museum Played a role in Bilbao, Italy has always had fine Architecture.

    If the Planner has a background in Mortuary Science, good luck. Planning is and extension of Architecture.

    Were architects mentioned? No.

  • 3

    I think that it is great that they are all looking tword the future, but I should hope that the future will be there for those that are left in the city. Yes there needs to be careful and thoughtful planning. I would also hope that Macomb and Oakland county are also behind a move tword the future as well.

  • 4

    Mr Katz makes excellent points. Change is difficult in better times. We generally resist change as a society with a great amount of energy. This energy re-focused and mixed with vision and creativity came accomplish amazing things. We will finally stop resisting change when it becomes too painful not to change. I think we are at that point. We now need the vision and creativity. This is our chance for a do over and let's not blow it. Land is cheap and our leadership seems truly interested in making a difference. While federal money is important, please don't think we have to wait for it. While it is nice to have well funded expensive solutions, there are often more practical lower cost solutions that will work just as well and sometimes better. An example is the highly efficient urban transportation system developed in Curitiba, Brazil which by the way is also self sustaining. Wouldn't it be nice to not have to subsidize the transportation system and use those dollars for something else.
    The move to develop urban farming may not seem like a big deal but the implications go far beyond its simplicity. It can teach kids about science and nutrition often lacking in poor urban settings. If it is done in a manner that kids will enjoy, it can give kids something productive to do in the summer and a way to give back to the community. We can enjoy these benefits as adults as well.
    While many solutions can be low cost, it will still take funding and in a State that is hard pressed to sustain necessary services already in place, funding new projects will be daunting. Michigan needs a really bold new concept to provide new revenue streams to fund what is going to be needed in the future for Michigan and Detroit. The alternative is to depend on the political wind direction of Washington.
    One idea that meets this criteria is a state owned bank such as the one in North Dakota. There are several states already looking at this concept as a way to be less dependent on the national economy and keep more revenues within the state. This idea has been presented to several groups already in Michigan and is beginning to gain some traction.
    Before we dismiss this idea there are several facts to keep in mind. With 700,000 resident in North Dakota, their state had a 1.2 billion dollar surplus last year. Their unemployment is under 3%. North Dakota has held two job fairs in Michigan in the last 6 months to recruit workers to their state. It is a popular concept with the community banks and credit unions in North Dakota as well.
    For an overview see Neil Monro's column in Dome Magazine. You can also Google Bank of North Dakota.

  • 5

    can you give more event information? date, time, place, etc? thank you.

  • 6

    [...] since we all love Detroit, I want all my fellow LionsDetroit fans to check out detroit.blogs.time and tell me what you think about[...]

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