A report commissioned by Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) says the significant amount of land in Detroit that is still set aside for industry may be an advantage in attracting new investment over the long term. As more manufacturers invest in the U.S., other cities that have converted industrial property to alternative uses may not have as many attractive locations to offer as Detroit. The study also points to the continuing strength of the automotive industry and the trend to re-shore manufacturing as factors that have added 3,000 industrial jobs in Detroit between 2010 and 2013.
The 177-page report, titled An Industrial Strategy for the City of Detroit, offers data from a comprehensive survey of the city’s 10,150 acres of industrial properties land in 2010, as well as recommendations to grow Detroit’s automotive, metal manufacturing, transportation, distribution and logistics, and construction clusters. It was conducted in association with the research that was incorporated into Detroit Future City. Based on the results the report affirmed, “a case can be made that it would be difficult to find another U.S. city that can match Detroit’s combination of industrial know-how and capability and innovation capacity.”
Teresa M. Lynch, principal at Mass Economics and a lead author of the report said, “Industrial activity is critical to healthy urban economies—it generates employment and revenue and contributes to broad-based opportunity in cities by providing middle-wage jobs to workers without four year degrees. It’s important to understand that the story of industrial activity is not one of inevitable decline—with the right business development, workforce, and land strategies, industrial jobs can contribute to economic growth and innovation in the city of Detroit.”
“This study reminds us that our long automotive heritage has built a strong core infrastructure to handle large-scale manufacturing supply chains,” said Rod Miller, president and CEO of DEGC. “You don’t just switch that back on after years of underuse, but we have been working strategically to market it as a real benefit to manufacturers, as well as build new assets.”
DEGC has been successful working with the City of Detroit and other partners to act on the information in the report, including a focused effort to develop a reinvestment strategy for the Mt. Elliott Employment District, the largest employment district identified in Detroit Future City. In addition, the State of Michigan is studingy opportunities to bring business investments in intermodal freight across the state, and DEGC expects that Detroit will feature strongly in its recommendations.
The report cites other studies that found centers of manufacturing also generate innovations, and in the last twelve months Detroit has been selected as the home of R&D centers for American Axle and the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
DEGC is offering the report as a resource to anyone who is interested in understanding what it will take to advance Detroit’s industrial economy. It was funded by The Kresge Foundation and produced by the Institute for a Competitive Inner City, Interface Studio LLC and Mass Economics. It can be downloaded at:
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