After Detroit’s bankruptcy in 2013, the city was burdened by a public health crisis, economic stagnation, and racial injustice and unrest. But instead of sticking to the conventional formulas of municipal finance and practices, the Detroiters chose to change their reality through various initiatives and programs to better and more effectively sustain their urban home. In a Bloomberg article titled “Detroit Showed What ‘Build Back Better’ Can Look Like,” author Rip Rapson discusses how the city’s bankruptcy ushered in a new era of problem-solving that could be a national model for other U.S. cities, especially in the post-pandemic era.
In Detroit’s revival, the city’s plan encompassed more than the rebuilding of its physical infrastructures such as bridges, tunnels, and roads. Instead, the city also focused on the expansion of “soft infrastructure,” newer technologies that make the city more resilient to climate change, and other investments that mitigate the barriers faced by working families pursuing social stability and economic opportunity. This focus on creating pathways to economic mobility has forced the city to reimagine, redesign, and experiment various solutions. I don’t doubt that Detroit’s creative latitude is what allows the city to customize strategies to their citizen’s needs. Its ability to form and build partnerships across the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors has enabled the city to multiple resources, promote innovation, and engage community residents in the complexities of local problem-solving.
“Rather than ushering in doom, Detroit’s bankruptcy catapulted the city into reimagination, recalibration and renewal.”
Creative collaboration as well as new and developing relationships have allowed for meaningful and impactful opportunities for the community as a whole. I was able to witness this first-hand at the 2022 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest: Top 10 Reveal Party this past Thursday, June 16th. Hatch Detroit was founded in 2011 to give residents and aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to have a voice in neigborhood retail development. It supports both existing and new retail initiatives and have invested over $10 million in economic development in the city of Detroit. This year, Hatch Detroit joined TechTown Detroit’s suite of entrepreneurial programs and services. This partnership was discussed in a Bloomberg press release, “Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest Returns With $100K Donation from Comerica Bank to Benefit Winning Business”.
It was so inspiring to see that the organization that I am working at this summer is so closely involved in such a huge part of Detroit’s journey and effort to build itself back up. I was able to personally witness the efforts that the city has made to “build back better” and agree with the Bloomberg article that the city of Detroit’s era of problem-solving could definitely serve as an important model for a national infrastructure push.