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.