Five Years After Bankruptcy: See How Detroit Is Transforming

When the city of Detroit filed its historic bankruptcy, the Detroit Regional Chamber was one of the first organizations to openly support the decision as the only realistic way to resolve the city’s systemic issues and become globally competitive again. Watch Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah’s 2013 interview about Detroit’s bankruptcy on CNBC.

“Bankruptcy is the bold step needed to finally address Detroit’s financial problems in a meaningful and sustainable way. While nobody welcomes the concept of bankruptcy, it is necessary to solve the long-term structural financial challenges of this historic city. This decision puts the city on a path to achieve its most essential function – providing Detroiters the services they deserve – and sets the stage for a growing, vibrant Detroit,” Baruah said at the time.

Today, the city is experiencing an unprecedented rebirth on the world stage. From a bustling restaurant scene and a growing tech entrepreneurial ecosystem to multimillion-dollar development downtown and growth in the city’s neighborhoods.

Here are just some ways the city has transformed itself into a dynamic urban community in recent years:

1. Look at the Data:

  • Attracting Talent: The city’s population between the ages of 25 and 29 has seen the largest growth at 24 percent. Since 2013, millennials with a bachelor’s degree or higher in downtown grew by 91 percent.
  • Jobs: Detroit added nearly 12,000 jobs.
  • Unemployment: The unemployment rate for the city of Detroit for 2017 was 9.3 percent, down from 18.9 percent in 2013.
  • Office Space: Office vacancy rates for Detroit/the Pointes submarket is 8.1 percent, down 8.3 percent from a vacancy rate of 16.4 percent five years ago. Office vacancy rates in the Central Business District declined to 7.8 percent.

2. Follow the Investment: 

  • Large Projects: $5.6 billion in major investment in the past five years (2013-2017). This includes announced, planned, under construction and completed projects of $5 million and above. Milestone projects include: Beacon Park, the QLine Detroit, The District Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, Ford Train Station, and the Hudson Site.
  • New Retail, Restaurants, Bar Openings: There are 1,105 new retail establishments and 540 new restaurants and bars with a founding date of 2010 and 2018. Source: DnB.
  • Major Businesses: Fifth Third Bank, Ally Financial and Microsoft all opened headquarters in downtown. Two of the largest automotive seat makers in the world and Lear Corp. moved operations into the city. ArcelorMittal, a global steel company, moved into the I-94 Industrial Corridor.

3. Explore the Human Impact:

  • Pathways to College: Detroit became the first major city to guarantee a tuition-free path to college through the Chamber’s Detroit Promise scholarship program.
  • Connections to the Workforce: 8,000 Detroit youth placed in jobs this summer through the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent internship program.
  • A Safer Detroit: Project Greenlight received national attention for its success in reducing crime with nearly 300 businesses participating to date.

4. Tally the Rankings:

  • Detroit selected for Forbes’ Opportunity Cities – September 2014
  • Detroit ranked “18th Most Walkable Large City in the United States” – April 2015
  • Detroit ranked “Best American City for Sports Travel” by Hotels.com – March 2015
  • Detroit designated “Talent Hub” by Lumina Foundation – May 2018

5. Read the National Headlines:

Bernstein to join panel on fifth anniversary of Detroit’s bankruptcy

Plunkett Cooney bankruptcy attorney Douglas C. Bernstein was one of the many professionals involved in the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy, which remains the largest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy ever filed. To commemorate the fifth anniversary of this historic event, Bernstein will participate in a panel discussion on July 18.

Hosted by DBusiness magazine from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Gem Theatre in Detroit, the panel discussion is part of the DBusiness Breakfast Series. The event, titled: “Detroit’s Bankruptcy: Five Years Later – Past, Present and Future,” will feature Bernstein along with former Detroit City Council Member Sheila Cockrel, Patrick O’Keefe of O’Keefe financial advisors and John Naglick, Chief Deputy CFO / Finance Director for the city of Detroit.

“It’s remarkable how Detroit made it through the bankruptcy process. It had a perfect cast of leaders to see the process through. It was historic and the solutions were very creative,” said Bernstein who serves as the Business Law Department Leader of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms. “Here we are five years later, and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. But hopefully the city will continue to have the same financial discipline in the future.”

During the city’s bankruptcy proceedings, Bernstein represented foundations that donated to the so-called “Grand Bargain” to ease pension cuts and spin off the Detroit Institute of Arts. He also served, and continues to serve, as a resource to local, regional and national media on Detroit’s emergency financial status and issues generally related to Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.

Tickets for the July 18 panel discussion cost $65 and are available at the DBusiness website. Groups of 10 cost $50 per person. Prior to the start of the discussion, there will be networking reception and strolling breakfast available from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

A member of Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office, Bernstein concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, loan restructuring, commercial loan documentation, bankruptcy, banking-related litigation and appeals. Prior to joining Plunkett Cooney, Bernstein worked as an in-house attorney at Michigan National Corporation for over 20 years.

Bernstein earned his undergraduate degree in 1978 from Wayne State University and his law degree in 1982 from the Detroit College of Law. Earlier this year, he became the only Michigan attorney inducted into the 2018 class of Fellows of the American College of Bankruptcy, a prestigious national organization focused on fostering excellence in bankruptcy and insolvency practice.


Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney employs approximately 300 employees, including over 150 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, as well as in Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm, which provides a range of transactional and litigation services, has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell. Fortune magazine has also named Plunkett Cooney among the top commercial law firms in the United States.

For more information about Douglas Bernstein’s participation in the DBusiness magazine panel discussion on July 18, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

 

November 11: Bankruptcy Decision Paves Way for New Era in Detroit; Kevin Kerrigan to Lead State’s Automotive Office

Bankruptcy Decision Paves Way for New Era in Detroit

The Detroit Regional Chamber applauds Judge Steven Rhodes for approving Detroit’s bankruptcy plan last week, paving the way for a new era for the city and region. Exiting bankruptcy so effectively has wiped out decades of poor financial decisions and created a historic opportunity to move the city forward.

The Chamber acknowledges the bold leadership of Gov. Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr for taking the necessary and difficult steps to address Detroit’s financial and structural problems. Most notable was the approval of the Grand Bargain to better protect pensioners and the Detroit Institute of Arts collection.

The Chamber also congratulates Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit City Council for their resilient governance during the first year of bankruptcy. While the city’s bankruptcy balanced the books, it’s not the end goal. Building on the progress already made under Mayor Duggan, and maintaining discipline with city finances and operations over the long-term is critical to building off this historic effort.

Chamber Frames Positive Message for Detroit Post-Bankruptcy

As it did at the start of bankruptcy, the Detroit Regional Chamber continues to share the positive message of Detroit’s resurgence for a national audience following last week’s ruling by Judge Steven Rhodes.

Leading up to and immediately after Rhodes’ decision, Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah interviewed with numerous state and national media outlets, including WXYZ Channel 7, WDIV Channel 4’s Flashpoint, Reuters and the Los Angeles Times — sending a clear message that Detroit is poised to emerge a stronger, more resilient city. The appearances underscore the need for Detroit residents to be “loud and proud” of their city, a goal echoed by Gov. Rick Snyder during the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference and a Conference To-Do List item.

In addition to shaping Detroit’s story for a national audience, the Chamber is co-leading the Detroit Brand Alliance, a coalition of businesses and thought-leaders, to develop a unified messaging brand that creates a positive economic impact on the city. Baruah is co-chairing the Alliance with Tom Lewand, group executive for jobs and economic growth for the city of Detroit.

Kevin Kerrigan to Lead State’s Automotive Office

The Detroit Regional Chamber congratulates Kevin T. Kerrigan on his appointment as senior vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Kerrigan will to lead the state’s automotive office and replace Nigel Francis, who will be returning to the private sector.

Continuing to build Michigan’s automotive assets, including focusing on ensuring the state and region retain the mantle as the epicenter of next generation advanced mobility and the connected vehicle, is a key goal the Chamber’s MICHauto program shares with the Governor. While much has been accomplished under the Governor’s administration, much remains to be done. The Chamber thanks Francis for his leadership and looks forward to working with Kerrigan to continue building upon the state’s comprehensive automotive economic strategy.

Chamber Helps Bring American Flags Back to Hart Plaza

More than 15 American flags now line Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit just in time for Veterans Day thanks in part to the efforts of the Detroit Regional Chamber. The flags were unveiled during a ceremony on Saturday that capped a year-long campaign launched by Revolution Flag Group.

After efforts to raise the required $60,000 to restore and maintain the flags and poles were mired, the company reached out to Chamber employees, who advised the company on setting up a charitable foundation and helped facilitate dialogue with the Rivertown Detroit Association. Through that connection, Revolutionary Flag Group secured underwriter funding for the project through the UAW-Ford National Programs Center, and JJ Curran Crane Company provided a cherry picker and crane to erect the flags.

Local Businesses Encouraged to Hire Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, the Detroit Regional Chamber is renewing its call to members to take an active role in providing employment opportunities to the dedicated men and women who have served in the military.

The Chamber continues to be a steadfast advocate in raising awareness of the importance and the value of hiring Michigan veterans, providing resources for area companies through its numerous partnerships. In 2013, the Chamber partnered with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to host the Governor’s Summit on Veterans Talent, making the case for employers to implement veteran-hiring programs. These efforts were further expanded upon during a veteran talent showcase at the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference, giving veterans an influential stage to market their qualifications to top companies across the state.

Visit the Chamber’s resource page for hiring veterans and view this video created by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs that promotes the impact veteran talent has on the state’s economy.

SEMCOG Invites Public to Comment on Transportation Improvement Program

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) is soliciting public comments for an amendment to its 2014-2017 fiscal year Transportation Improvement Program.

As part of the amendment, 23 projects proposed for funding are either being added or have a major change in scope. New projects include 12 that preserve pavement, four transit improvements, three that will manage freeway lighting, two bridge projects, one guardrail project, and one project designed to improve traffic operations. An additional 16 projects are being deleted, including a delay of the M-153 reconstruction in Canton Township and several Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) projects due to priority shifting.

The amendment requires all proposed projects undergo a public comment period. Written comments can be mailed to SEMCOG Information Center, 1001 Woodward Ave., Suite 1400, Detroit, MI 48226. Comments can also be made in person at the Transportation Coordinating Council meeting on Dec. 3 at 9:30 a.m., or the SEMCOG Executive Committee meeting on Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. Click here for more information.

Dickinson Wright Attorney Steven Howell to Receive the Barbara J. Rom Award for Bankruptcy Excellence

DETROIT, Mich., October 31, 2014 – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Attorney Steven G. Howell will receive the Barbara J. Rom Award for Bankruptcy Excellence from the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter.

Mr. Howell is a Member in the firm’s Detroit office. He also serves as the Practice Department Manager for the firm’s Banking & Finance, Creditors’ Rights, Municipal Finance and International Law Practices. He focuses his practice in the areas of bankruptcy & restructuring law, including creditor rights and bankruptcy litigation, and banking & finance law. Mr. Howell is currently serving as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan in the City of Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy case, representing the State of Michigan. He has served as either counsel or co-counsel for clients in numerous Chapter 11 bankruptcies, CCAA proceedings in Canada, and workouts. Mr. Howell has expertise in assisting clients dealing with financially-challenged entities in a variety of industries including automotive, manufacturing, banking, municipal, and commercial real estate.

Mr. Howell is a member of the Federal Bar Association’s Eastern District of Michigan Chapter, the State Bar of Michigan, the American Bankruptcy Institute, and the Turnaround Management Association. He is recognized as a leader in his field by Best Lawyers in America, including being named 2014 Detroit Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Lawyer of the Year; Chambers USA, including recognition as a Band 1 Leading Individual in Michigan in the bankruptcy field; Michigan Super Lawyers, and Dbusiness Top Lawyers. Mr. Howell received his B.G.S. from the University of Michigan, with high distinction, and his J.D. from Wayne State University Law School, magna cum laude.

The Federal Bar Association Bankruptcy Committee established the Barbara J. Rom Award for Bankruptcy Excellence. The purpose of this award is to honor individuals who, like Barbara, have exhibited the highest level of overall excellence in the practice of bankruptcy law. Honorees of this award exhibit overall excellence, civility, sophistication of practice, community involvement, Bar association and Court activity involvement as well as pro bono participation.

Mr. Howell will be presented with the Barbara J. Rom Award for Bankruptcy Excellence at the Rakow Scholarship Awards/Historical Society/Barbara J. Rom Award FBA Luncheon on November 20, 2014 at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. To learn more about this event, please click here.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a full-service law firm with more than 40 practice areas. Founded in 1878, Dickinson Wright PLLC has over 360 lawyers in offices located in Detroit, Troy, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Saginaw, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; Las Vegas, Nev.; Nashville, Tenn.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C. Dickinson Wright LLP has over 35 lawyers in Toronto, Canada.