On Tuesday, March 7, 2023, Mayor Mike Duggan gave his tenth State of the City address inside Michigan Central Depot, which will reopen later this summer, 10 years from when the city entered bankruptcy. As the city continues to build on economic development, the speech presented more optimism for Detroit residents and the regional business community.
Improving Detroit is Good for Detroit’s Future, Business
Throughout his hour-long speech, Duggan listed many redevelopment projects that have broken ground or had ribbon cuttings, from affordable housing on the Riverfront to rebuilding the Avenue of Fashion on Livernois Road, where “you can’t find a parking spot on Friday or Saturday night.”
“This is what is happening across the city. We have Black ownership and Black development rebuilding our community,” Duggan said, after touching on the Bagley Development Group’s progress in transforming the historic United Artists Building into market rate and affordable housing.
Duggan also stated about being “intentional” in ensuring Detroiters have ownership in all new businesses in the city.
“We want outside investment. We welcome investment from outside the city,” Duggan said. “But Detroiters have to have a fair share in the ownership and participate in the fair share of the profits.”
Breaking Down the Tax Abatements
Duggan also spoke about the much-discussed tax abatements for various development projects, especially in the District Detroit, which is currently asking for $800 million in tax “discounts” over the next 35 years. He explained that it is the “central part” of the strategy to bring companies like Huntington to downtown to combat being the country’s highest commercial effective tax rate.
“If we don’t give a [tax] discount every single time, the company… [is] going to look and say I can be a lot better off in another community,’” he said. “Tax incentives turn the abandoned Cadillac stamping into the nuclear seating plan. They turned the abandoned Kettering School into the Dakota dashboard factory…this long abandoned storefront of McNichols was turned into Marcus Jones’s new Detroit Pizza Bar because he had the advantage of the incentives.”
He also insisted that none of these tax abatements come from city taxpayers, Detroit Public Schools; $400 million will come from the Downtown Detroit Authority’s taxes, and the State of Michigan will cover the other half.
Education Leads to Opportunity
Duggan also boasted business startup support and entrepreneurship training with Motor City Match, which has increased grant funding to $1 million each quarter to recipients. He also highlighted some employment and educational opportunities available through Detroit at Work, including the 8,300 jobs available (decreasing from 13,000 this time last year) and getting paid now $200 a week to attend literacy or high school classes.
He also revealed how more than 4,000 Detroiters are now attending college with scholarship funds from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Promise, which funds high school graduates with good grades on their college path.
“I can keep getting these companies to come back into the city, but we’ve got to have Detroiters filling those jobs,” he said. “And there is a place for you in a career that you want.”
Mayor Duggan’s leadership has been critical to Detroit’s growth throughout his time in office. Detroit is on the rise again because of many of the new developments that Duggan touted during the State of the City, and future projects like the District Detroit, provide critical opportunities for the City to continue to take the next step. Our growth will be fueled by these projects and other efforts like the Detroit Promise to make Detroit the most exciting place for young professionals.