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Working toward one Detroit

Jul 27, 2018


From Kevin Johnson, President and CEO

Changing an outdated narrative about Detroit is among DEGC’s top priorities. This means changing how others discuss our city, as well as how we tell our own story. Too long has Detroit been defined by others’ opinions of our community, our value and our potential. These opinions, which are oftentimes defeatist in nature, limit Detroit’s ability to attract new business and help develop an equitable city for all our residents. It’s time to take back the conversation and tell the holistic story of Detroit’s recovery. As change agents and champions of economic development, each of us has an obligation to start setting the record straight.

When I accepted my role at DEGC, I said Detroit has unlimited potential for growth, far greater than any other U.S. city. The more I learn about Detroit and its residents, the more I hold firm in that belief.

DEGC is excited to share Detroit’s evolving narrative – one that pushes us beyond our past and tells our value proposition in a way that excites the market. With the help of our stakeholders, DEGC is leading a future-focused conversation that highlights Detroit’s people and progress and elevates our city on a national stage. Detroit is becoming recognized around the world as a place to work, live and play. We’re extending our audience reach, including getting more creative in how we present Detroit and ourselves to a global audience.

Unfortunately, not every Detroiter’s truth connects with rising opportunity and the better life that has become synonymous with the city’s rebound. Their stories are critically important as we work together to accelerate growth and ensure that the benefits of growth are accessible to everyone.

Since my arrival, I’ve met with several members of the community, our press corps and other stakeholders. I will continue to do so, even (and especially) when our views do not align. We need to engage in difficult discussions if we are to change Detroit’s image. I have asked DEGC’s Board members for their help changing Detroit’s narrative and acting as ambassadors for the city. And I’m asking you – staff and stakeholders – to carry the message of Detroit’s recovery. That includes DEGC’s leadership role in attracting new business, growing our commercial corridors, and transforming Detroit’s real estate assets for industrial and commercial use. (Content on these subjects is available on our website and social channels.)

Last week I had the pleasure of participating on a panel titled, “A Tale of Two Cities.” It was part of the Detroit Historical Society’s Third Thursday Speaker Series and was held at the Detroit Historical Museum. As you can imagine from the title, it was an emotional conversation. Panelists and audience members presented a variety of perspectives. It was an important opportunity for me to hear – unvarnished – the concerns facing our residents. While I don’t have a shared experience in Detroit, I am very familiar with similar issues from my work in Atlanta, South Carolina, Nashville and elsewhere. Change does not come quickly enough for the people who need it most. As I’ve heard Detroit’s Mayor say, the people and businesses that remained in the city during its darkest hours are most deserving of Detroit’s growing prosperity. That’s why our work to increase jobs, overall investment and retail density is so important.

Please join me in discussing Detroit’s competitive advantage and becoming among Detroit’s most vocal supporters. By sharing a message of opportunity and optimism, we welcome others to witness the Detroit we know and love. Through action and a plan for success, our city can become what former United Nations’ U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young called an “intentional miracle.” Please share your positive stories using the hashtag #IntentionalMiracle on our social channels to amplify our voice.

Here is a collection of recent media reports featuring DEGC programs and people:

DEGC Media Mentions

Recent Headlines