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From Kevin Johnson, President and CEO

There is no single word more important to a city’s economic health than diversification. Experts agree that economic diversification is inextricably linked with economic development and poverty reduction.

Detroit, like many American cities, has learned the hard lesson that can come from over-reliance on a single industry. It isn’t just rust-belt cities like Detroit, Pittsburg and Youngstown that have fallen victim to over-dependency. Seattle, Washington’s economy was hit in the 1970s when Boeing laid off 70,000 workers. Charlotte, North Carolina, felt its economic stability threatened after the collapse of the financial services sector.

These examples serve as a stark reminder of how important economic diversification is for a city’s sustained viability. Not only must we attract and retain companies that offer quality jobs and act as good corporate citizens, but we are also responsible for creating the type of economic diversification that provides stability for generations to come.

Today, America’s most prosperous cities are building a foundation that includes a variety of industry clusters. For Charlotte, that foundation includes motorsports, defense, energy, film and healthcare. Aerospace continues as one of Seattle’s top employers, but it is better known as the home to Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks.

Detroit’s economic base is widening as well. While mobility will be central to our future, we are expanding into other industry clusters including technology, which will help drive growth across all emerging sectors. Our efforts are already showing results. A Brookings Institute study ranks Detroit behind only Silicon Valley, Seattle and Wichita for advanced industry employment. This dynamic sector includes aerospace, med/health, green energy and telecommunications.

Detroit is also becoming a banking and finance leader, hosting the headquarters for Rocket Mortgage, Quicken Loans, Ally Financial and the new TCF/Chemical Bank merger. Not only does this move bring 500 jobs to our city, it sends an important message to other companies looking for a vibrant place to do business.

Working with our partners at the City and throughout the region, the DEGC will continue to attract businesses that provide jobs across a wide variety of growing industries. This approach builds stability into our economy and allows people from diverse backgrounds, interests and abilities the greatest opportunity to participate in Detroit’s prosperity.

Three things you should know about the DEGC:

  1. The Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority is considering a development plan for the Albert Kahn Building. A public hearing will be held on Feb. 7.
  2. TechTown is hosting a 10-week intensive Retail Boot Camp program that will help entrepreneurs open their first brick-and-mortar store.Applications are open until Feb. 11.
  3. On Feb. 14, DEGC’s Kenyetta Hairston-Bridges will serve as a panelist for Michigan Continuing Education Program for Real Estate Professionals to discuss Detroit development.