You can either take I-75 North or South around Auburn Hills/Pontiac/Rochester and you see a distinct site off to the West, a white pillow top building. You may know exactly what I am speaking of, the Pontiac Silverdome. This was once a hot bed of sporting events, concerts, and a multitude of other activities; but now sits unused for the majority of the time. The activity taking place in the dome now, doesn’t bring about the levels of revenue that it once did. Drive around the immediate Silverdome area today and you see a different landscape than that of the 1980′s & 90′s when the building was in its prime.
Granted that the move to Ford Field was a great move for the Detroit Lions and for the city of Detroit, but it always leaves me with the question of “when does one great move become a disadvantage for another?”
Picture by PrimeSport
There is a movement in this region that has been taking place for a few years now that would rejuvenate the city of Detroit. There is no doubt that this is a good thing. Go outside of the Southeastern Detroit region and you will find a bad persona of the city. New stories of crime and corruption ravage the front pages of print, digital and television communication; and there is no doubt that this is taking place. But what else is happening that is positive? In the city of Detroit there is a lot. From Businesses growing, residential areas expanding, to communities growing it is all good and positive and it will not change over night or even in the next few years but over the course of a decade, you will not recognize the city that once was.
When I moved my family to Michigan in 2007, we saw more cars leaving Michigan than coming in. You could easily depict it like a scene in a movie where thousands are leaving to avoid an alien invasion while one car is headed right towards it. For the first few months I had countless people ask why we moved to Michigan. After a while I began to question it myself, but a year later began to see glimmers of hope in a bucket of garbage. Automakers sat before congress pleading to stay alive, banks were crumbling, yet there was a community of people fighting to keep a unique city alive. This is what inspired me. I am a futurist (as described in Strengthfinders) and I can see hope in the bleakest of situations, but now I see so much hope in the city of Detroit that I am finding ways to be involved on the front ends of a Renaissance.
But as the futurist in me, I am always looking 3-5 years ahead of where I am actually at and I begin to wonder if the movement of so many companies from the suburbs to the city is as good of a thing as we think it is. Maybe in the long-term, a slow change in business structures can be beneficial for the whole region, but the question is pose is in this relation. Is so much movement to the city going to negatively impact the suburbs? Taking a large tax basis that comes from a company that once paid into a municipality and shifting it to another is going to have positive and negative effects on both local governments. But not only the company’s tax basis, take into effect the rippling effects on that community through gas stations, restaurants, and more. How will this be effected?
As we look to revitalize the region do we think as a region or as a city? I have lived in Minneapolis and grew up in Illinois (south of Chicago), and neither place referred to itself as separate from the city, rather if you were in that Metro area you were a part of the city and the suburbs. The dividing lines were not as solidly communicated as here in Detroit. This was well communicated by Stephen Clark last night at a Social Media Club of Detroit meeting as he shared that people are quick to define if they live in the city or suburbs, like the other one has a plague that you do not want to be associated with.
What will it take for us to stand together as one metro community?
All of this takes me back to my original thought in the title, Can Saving Detroit Kill the Suburbs? Does one have to survive while the other does not or can there be a way to make it all flourish? Instead of focusing in on moving companies, can we bring others in who are out-of-state (yes that will affect those communities as well)? There is no great movement without effecting another but as the Detroit metro area can this region strive ahead together or will the separation continue to negatively impact each other? I am a big advocate for the city and the suburbs together and I want to see both of them excel and be great. I also believe they have to work together to help each other and to thrive as a region, not just a singular entity.
Just a few morning thoughts for you my friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts!