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: