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Right Time for Metro Detroit?

I'm seeing some synergy today. Some good news about the city, the suburbs and all of that:

* Saab Cars is putting its North America headquarters in Royal Oak. The former division of General Motors Corp. is now owned by Dutch luxury automaker Spyker Cars NV. The city gave Saab a property tax break, and the Michigan Economic Growth Authority gave the company a $1.2 million, five-year employment tax credit to get the deal done. Come news to come on this today as Gov. Jenny Granholm holds a press conference. A highlight:

Its headquarters would house sales and marketing operations, advertising, technical assistance and customer support along with possibly parts testing and vehicle evaluations. Other operations based in Royal Oak would include human resources, accounting, IT, legal and clerical staff. Eventually, distribution for Canada and Mexico could be based out of Royal Oak. Saab is prepared to invest about $2.4 million and create up to 60 jobs over the next five years. The jobs would pay an average $1,693 a week.

Nice words out of Mike Colleran, chief operating officer of Saab Cars North America as noted by The Detroit News:

"There are great suppliers here, and the human resources here are second to none," he said.

* Model D has a nice Q&A with Matt Cullen, who heads the M-1 Rail project. A highlight of his thoughts on why the right people are in the mix on this transportation innovation:

This is the right group of assembled leadership. From the private sector, we have (Robert) Penske, (Dan) Gilbert and myself, and from the governmental community, we have Mayor Bing, (Wayne County Executive Bob) Ficano, (Governor) Granholm ... right up to the federal branch. From the foundation community, we've got Rip Rapson from Kresge, the Ford Foundation supporting transit-oriented development, and we're talking to a number of other foundations. It's a coalition of folks getting their heads around this and, to use a train analogy, once it gets moving, gets momentum, it's difficult for people to stand in front of it. I analogize it to the riverfront: it's a pretty similar process, you get the right people in the room and are inclusive in the process, get people enthusiastic about it, and you can get things done.

* The New York Times drops in again to comment on the downsizing project. The author adds some thoughtful words of warning:

If Mayor Bing tries to do too much, too quickly, without giving enough to the residents who have to move, then right-sizing will justly be seen as yet another example of the public insensitivity and folly that has unfortunately marred too many past efforts at dealing with urban distress.

The comments section of this article is a great read as well; people seem truly interested in this "project" and whether it has potential to bring back the city's greatness.

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