Can Detroit Be Saved?

The Motor City struggles to rise from the ashes of economic depression and reinvent itself as a center for entrepreneurship and industry

TechTown’s executive director is positive the same miracle can happen in his city—partially due to its prime location next to the country’s most heavily populated areas, which is desirable for international businesses looking to move products throughout the U.S. “I think we are going to be the gateway to America,” says Charlton. “We are going to be the place where the rest of the world comes into because it’s low cost and because the rest of the world wants to get into the biggest market of the world.”

Detroit has a rich history as the birthplace for scores of successful black entrepreneurs—from Berry Gordy of Motown, which was the nation’s largest black-owned business for more than 20 years, to Don Barden, CEO of Barden Cos. Inc. (No. 10 on the be industrial/service companies list with $455 million in revenues). A revitalized Motor City would not only provide jobs and business opportunities for this predominantly black city, but also serve as the primer for future urban revitalization projects to follow.

Can Detroit be saved? Given time and through great effort, absolutely. But only if policymakers, powerbrokers, and residents make the necessary changes, sacrifices, and successfully navigate the scores of obstacles that stand in the way.

This article appeared in the November 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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  • Dear Mr. Alan Hughes,

    I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your article on Can Detroit Be Saved? The thing I liked best was how you featured the pivotal role that many members of the BE 100 have played in the role of Detroit, the role of Tech Town, and the role entrepreneurs like Jimmy King. The funny thing about Detroit is that though Detroit has always had numerous companies listed in the BE 100 year after year, they are invisible in the hometown media like the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News because they are hostile to to black businesses and politicians like Mayor Kilpatrick who though he had his faults brought the city a Superbowl, and a major shipping port that will be opening this coming summer behind GM’s international HQ, the Ren Cen. Great story and keep up the great work!


    Mr. Winston Shines
    Principal Consultant
    Maximillian Bryan & Marcell Technologies Internationale LLC
    Detroit, MI

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