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What will a post-pandemic economy look like for Detroit?

Jul 15, 2021

As more Detroiters are becoming vaccinated and the COVID-19 infection rate continues to fall, our city is transitioning to a post-pandemic economy.

What that actually means is a question on everyone’s mind.

There are those who believe we will never truly recover from the devastating wrath of the global pandemic. Many jobs and businesses that were lost will not return. Entire sectors of our economy that were hit the hardest may suffer indefinitely.

Others compare this period in history to the post-war boom of 1945. Pent-up demand for goods and services will drive a spending frenzy and enable businesses to find new success. We’ve seen several neighborhood restaurants and retailers open since March 2020, hoping to cash in on consumer optimism and unbridled buying power. Economists at Goldman Sachs predict that the economy will grow approximately 6.8 percent this year with unemployment dropping to 4.1 percent.

In fact, changes made by many businesses to increase efficiencies and cut costs during the pandemic can actually accelerate business growth and profitability. This is true for businesses of all sizes and in all industries.

To help Detroit’s small business community during the pandemic, DEGC and a coalition of some 60 private and public partners formed Detroit Means Business (DMB). While the original intent of DMB was to help small businesses weather the COVID-19 storm, the organization is now broadening its focus. DMB is working to make Detroit a hub for small business success. This includes helping business owners with access to capital, addressing legislative issues that prevent business growth, providing skills training and e-commerce connectivity, driving diversity and inclusion, and more.

The uncertain economy hasn’t frightened off all investors. Of the more than 50 projects announced for Detroit in 2019 and 2020, only a handful have been placed on hold as a result of the crisis. Most projects are moving forward, are under construction or near completion, totaling more than $6.3 billion of investment in the City. In fact, 12 new development projects were announced since March 2020, adding another $170 million in investment.

As DEGC works with the City of Detroit and the surrounding region, we are providing businesses with a pathway to post-pandemic recovery. This includes resuming the business attraction efforts that were gaining momentum prior to the health crisis. Earlier this week, the Detroit Regional Partnership and DEGC hosted site selectors from a variety of regions in the U.S. Detroit’s positive attributes were showcased, including our diverse talent pool, business-friendly environment, growing mobility, tech, apparel and financial services sectors, and the City’s industrial land assembly strategy.

Our work to transform the former Cadillac Stamping plant into a new industrial facility and provide 450 jobs demonstrates DEGC’s commitment to repurpose vacant blighted land and turn it into productive use that can gain new business consideration for Detroit.

Another driver of Detroit’s recovery is the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Under Mayor Mike Duggan and his administration, DEGC is working with the City to use the ARPA funding allocated to Detroit to fight poverty, support small businesses, invest in neighborhoods and prepare the City for new investment. This funding represents a transformational moment in Detroit’s history to address fundamental barriers to economic opportunity and ensure inclusive participation in Detroit’s future success.

Thanks to the many iconic assets of our city, we expect Detroit’s economy – which was on a very positive trajectory at the time COVID-19 hit – to quickly regain momentum. This will be accelerated by our vaccination rate, public and private partnerships, supply chain preparedness and long-term investments in much needed infrastructure improvements.

However, no factor is more vital to Detroit’s rebound than consumer spending. Please consider patronizing Detroit businesses and the major industries supported by our workers. When we support Detroit’s local commerce, we create jobs, drive up wages, and foster inclusive growth for our city.

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