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Detroit Regional Chamber report mostly upbeat

From: Detroit Free Press

From: John Gallagher

December 11, 2014

On the same day that Detroit’s financial emergency was declared officially over, the Detroit Regional Chamber today issued a mostly upbeat economic assessment of Southeast Michigan’s economy.

Billed as an inaugural State of the Region report, the 32-page document released to Chamber members this evening is replete with statistics documenting reasons for optimism and a few reasons for concern.

“Over the past five years, there has not been a more compelling economic development story than that of the Detroit region,” the report begins. “The domestic automotive industry re-engineered from the brink of collapse now exceeds pre-recession production levels. Detroit’s historic exit from bankruptcy has changed the city from the symbol of urban decay to the nation’s underdog upstart.”

Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber, said the report offers the chamber’s first-time report card on the entire region.

“I think generally the news is good but it’s not universally good,” he said. “From a jobs growth, from an innovation, from a GDP standpoint, those numbers look really solid and we have a lot to be optimistic about,” he said.

But noting that metro Detroit’s education attainment levels remain sub-par, Baruah added, “There are storm clouds on the horizon.” The types of jobs most in demand in the future will require advanced training and education, and “our education attainment rates are not only below our peers but below the national average.”

Chock-full of statistics on the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the report details, among other indicators:

• The Detroit region’s GDP growth Detroit ranked second only to Dallas for GDP growth against peer metropolitan areas.

• The Detroit MSA gained nearly 150,000 private sector jobs over the past five years, surpassing Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

• But challenges remain: The Detroit region has experienced a 2% decline in median household income dropping from $52,954 in 2009 to $51,903 in 2012, ranking the region last when benchmarked against peer regions.

The full report can be found at www.detroitchamber.com.