Blog: Matt Clayson


The optimist in me believes that Detroit has not an, but the advantage in opportunity.

Detroit is different in that it is very local. People know each other here. People support each other here. They want to see each other succeed and make a difference. The opportunity to join such a close-knit community rarely exists in regions the size of Detroit. Those that know the key to leveraging this local sense of community are successful. And they have the opportunity to create more than an idea, more than a business: they have the opportunity to create a meaningful impact. This ability to define and shape a city and region’s future should be a key component to any economic initiative.

Compared to competing regions, Detroit is also inexpensive. Space is relatively cheap. Housing is a steal. Sure, auto insurance is high. Sure, taxes are more than they could be. Sure, you’re not going to get 20,000 square foot storefronts on Woodward Avenue for bargain basement prices.  Still, Detroit offers a high value for those who have the ability to relocate; those who have the desire to open a business; and those who have the edge to innovate and change an economy. This value can be leveraged regionally, nationally and internationally in an effort to inspire and attract new talent, new leaders and new ideas. 

Too often, Michigan gets caught up in the "woe unto me rustbelt mentality." And, yes, there is no denying that our state has experienced tough economic times. But to focus merely on problems and structural issues, without consideration for this region’s unique opportunities, is to miss the solution to addressing Michigan’s fundamental economic problems.   Any solution to these problems; any vision for urban growth and density; and any plan geared towards attracting new talent must whole-heartedly feature these notions of opportunity and value as unique and distinguishing factors.