Pinchot’s 2014 Summer Study Tour took Pinchot students, alumni and faculty to America’s “Rust Belt.” The group visited Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit to explore sustainable business opportunities at these significant sites of industrial success, decline and rebirth. In this series of blogs, participants share revelations and reactions along their journey.
By James Coburn
Detroit is a dichotomy.
The city’s innovative spirit that brought us the assembly line and the modern auto industry lives on in wildly successful new enterprises like Quicken Loans. Yet Detroit’s much-publicized poverty has spawned a depressed yet resilient culture that continues to struggle to pull itself out of the gutter.
Big ideas, modest progress
The macro thinkers of Detroit’s Economic Growth Corp. are focused on job creation. Their mantra is “one job creates many,” expressing their belief that jobs are an important way to get the city back on its feet. Yet the sheer scale of the municipality – 170 square miles – makes the pace of progress seem slow.
Place-making and art are happening all over the city: On the many abandoned properties, as well as downtown, through the efforts of Ford, Quicken Loans, and business moguls like Dan Gilbert and Mike Ilitch. These efforts are attracting young talent into a city center with many buildings that only five years ago were mere skeletons of themselves. Driven leaders like Mayor Mike Duggan are tirelessly pushing ahead to create innovation areas in the city to encourage new industry and create sustainable jobs. The city is also acting as fast as resources will allow to remove the remainder of the nearly 78,000 abandoned homes and putting in up to 800 street lights a week to create a safer city.Click to continue reading »