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Mayor Duggan: Detroit Depends on 2020 Census and Growth of Neighborhoods

Mayor Mike Duggan stopped by the 2020 Detroit Policy Conference for a conversation with Conference Chair and CEO of Ignition Media Group Dennis W. Archer Jr. before heading to Lansing to watch Gov. Gretchen Whitmer give her second annual State of the State address. Duggan talked General Motor Co.’s recent announcement, Detroit’s neighborhoods, and the 2020 census during his interview with Archer. 

The pair discussed the change in direction for General Motors with the reveal of its $2.2 billion investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, to create 2,200 jobs, a turnaround from its plant closings that took place last year. Duggan shared that he spoke to General Motors CEO Mary Barra on the phone during news of the closings and told her that he thought the company needed to make an investment somewhere, even with the risk involved. 

“You are going to have to make a big bet on the cars in future automated vehicles that come in,” Duggan reiterated from his phone conversation with Barra. “It’s going to be a scary, risky time for General Motors. Why wouldn’t you want it in the city of Detroit where you’ve been headquarters a hundred years?” 

Duggan said he was pleased when General Motors changed course and made the investment in the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, its first all-electric devoted plant set to build the autonomous Cruise Origin shuttle and an all-electric pickup. These technologies guarantee reduced gas emissions and accidents on the road, Duggan noted.  

Along with the influence of corporate investment in the city, Duggan also emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship in its neighborhoods, and how Detroit can better foster businesses just starting out. 

“We’ve got FCA, we’ve got Ford, we’ve got GM with billion-dollar investments in thousands of jobs, but what about the entrepreneur?” asked Duggan. “Particularly the African American entrepreneur from the city of Detroit.” 

There was once a time where the city’s neighborhoods had shopping districts that people could walk or bike to, Duggan recalled, adding that he wants to continue building vibrant commercial districts. 

“In the last 12 months 13 new businesses have opened – every one of them black owned.” 

While Detroit’s success is dependent on the health of its neighborhoods, it is also reliant on Detroiters themselves. With estimates that Detroit was undercounted in the 2010 census by around 30,000 people, ensuring an accurate count for 2020 is a top priority. Undercounting Detroit means losing money for school lunches, Medicaid, development programs, and more. 

“The minority undercount is very real, which means that our community has to have that much more effort,” Duggan added. “You need trust across the city.” 

Thank you to MotorCity Casino Hotel for sponsoring this session.

Read more about this session on Fox 2 Detroit and The Detroit News.