By George W. Jackson|Growth Detroit
For a number of years, DEGC focused a considerable amount of our attention on projects in and around downtown. We never stopped working to help companies throughout the city, and we had infrastructure projects going on from the east side of the city to southwest Detroit, but we knew we had to build on strength. We already had a high concentration of assets downtown, so we knew we would get the fastest, highest and most visible return on our investment there.
With the help of a lot of individuals, institutions and companies large and small, the strategy is working. The new activity in downtown is striking, and it has spread up and down Woodward through Midtown, and is progressing east and west through the Corktown and Eastern Market neighborhoods.
So what’s next? Our work downtown is not finished; however, Detroit is a big city, geographically, and the amount of open space it now has is no secret.
We have identified several areas of “low hanging fruit” for economic development outside of Greater Downtown – places that are ripe for new investment such as the East Riverfront and East Jefferson Districts, the 8 Mile Road-Woodward Avenue Gateway and the Livernois-7 Mile Avenue of Fashion. However, all of those districts together still only represent a small portion of the 140 square miles of Detroit. That’s why Detroit Works Project Long Term Planning is so important, and why DEGC is committed to getting it right.
DEGC is just one of the stakeholders in this process. Our role is still focused on finding sites for companies, encouraging businesses of all sizes to invest in the city and building infrastructure that promotes economic growth. Those are all important objectives, but they don’t stand alone. We do what we do to create a better quality of life for everyone who lives, works or plays in Detroit.
As chair of the Long Term Planning Steering Committee, I can report that a lot of what we are doing right now is listening. The civic engagement team is listening to community leaders, neighborhood groups, business people and individuals. It’s listening in forums, at a traveling table that pops up at events, in one-on-one conversations, through emails and Internet postings – in short, in every way we can think of. We are listening because there are a lot of creative ideas for redeveloping the city, and we don’t want to miss any. We are listening because it will take the collective work of many people to build a brighter future for Detroit, so we’ll need all those people to buy into any plans that are made.
Collecting all that input has not stopped our technical team, of course. We are on track to deliver a long-term plan before the end of this summer, because ultimately, listening has to turn into action. And action is what Detroiters expect and deserve.
George W. Jackson is president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.
This article appeared in Growth Detroit
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