It’s Morning in Detroit


This week we’re traveling with Steve Case on the Rise of the Rest road trip to celebrate entrepreneurship, in all its forms, across America. Every day we’ll post dispatches from the cities we’ve seen. Stay tuned for updates from Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Nashville.

Almost a century ago, Detroit was home to the transportation revolution and pioneering entrepreneurs like Henry Ford, but over time the city lost its way. Now this famous city is coming back with a new revolution focused on reimagining the city as the best version of itself: better infrastructure, stronger businesses and tighter communities. This story is one of regeneration, renewal, and rebirth.

We spent the morning touring spaces filled with great talent from Michigan’s universities (and across the country), and bursting with great passion for rebuilding this city. From the M@dison Building to Quicken Loans, DIME (Detroit Institute of Music Education), Detroit Labs and Bizdom, it’s clear how much energy Detroit has for its next incarnation. And then at Shinola -- a local company that produces watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals -- we saw that the manufacturing heritage that once made Detroit is again making it a world leader.

As recently as 60 years ago, Detroit was one of the top high-growth cities in the nation. Now it has an incredible opportunity to take its heritage, to inspire and retain the skilled individuals that are coming out of Michigan’s universities (Michigan has more engineers per capita than any other state in the nation), and to play leapfrog.

Ironically, one of Detroit’s great strengths is that everyone had given up on it; the stories have been so bad that it’s galvanized America’s interest. The fact that it got so bad here has created a platform for an unusual level of excitement and a boundless sense of possibility.

Had the city not lost 60 percent of its population and gone bankrupt, if Detroit did not have the chance to start again from the beginning, and rebuild from the ground-up, we might have seen a very different city today. Cities like Austin have already been through this sort of rebirth; we know that this looks like.

Today Detroit looks like a very different place. We met with Gov. Dan Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan, and civic leaders like Dan Gilbert. We toured co-working spaces and met investors and startups that are growing quickly – bringing jobs and excitement to Detroit. People are staying in the area, and moving back to Detroit from San Francisco and New York City to be a part of what’s happening here. The energy is palpable, and the dynamics of Detroit’s story are changing.

Detroit has a long history of innovation, and today we saw a vibrant community working hard to bring that tradition back to life. What remains is the task of bringing the automotive industry back into the fold. The industrial giants have the experience to help build a new Detroit, and this new Detroit has the power to breathe new life into these incumbent industries.

 The future is bright in Motor City. Good morning Detroit!