Detroit’s Renaissance

An economic rebirth spawned by a new administration is bringing both people and business back into the city

mayor, Dennis Archer, has set his sights on creating a renaissance that will restore Detroit to its former glory moving into the 21 st century.

Since 1994, the city’s development successes have captured local and national attention. Detroit ranked No. 1 in a 1997 Industry Week magazine listing of world-class communities, based on its manufacturing vitality. And, Mayor Archer, a two-time president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors, was sited by Newsweek as one of 25 U.S. mayors to watch.

Archer can’t help but be proud of what his administration and a dedicated business community have accomplished. “It’s easy to recognize that the vision of Detroit becoming a world- class city is quickly becoming a reality,” says Archer. “The commitment of city government, residents, businesses and corporations to building a new Detroit has created new hope and opportunities throughout the city. While there is more work to be done, the tremendous accomplishments demonstrate that we are well on our way.”

Capitalizing on the new emphasis on federal domestic policies launched by the Clinton administration, Archer ignited a spirit of collaboration among Detroit’s heavy-hitting business sector, snagging a coveted $100 million Empowerment Zone grant. In fact, the city’s success in attracting industrial development to the Empowerment Zone leads the nation, with more than $3.9 billion committed in private dollars for investment. Even small businesses such as private retail, restaurant franchises and drugstore chains, along- side corporate giants like the auto industry, have added another $2.9 billion to the coffers since 1994.

Detroit-based political analyst Mario Morrow says the winds of change are blowing through the city. “The doors have opened, the money is beginning to flow in and progress is beginning to be made, thanks to city officials, the business community and many people behind the scenes.”

Building a new city for the new century is no small task. But garnering support from businesses, residents and federal funding has proven easier than streamlining the city’s bureaucracy. Archer’s administration has been successful in revamping government to overcome its bureaucratic red tape. Now business permits get processed in about half the time taken previously. And Archer continues to investigate ways to reduce the income and corporate tax rate. The goal is to make living in and doing business in Detroit easier.

BE 100s auto dealer Nathan Conyers, of Conyers Riverside Ford, is familiar with doing business in Detroit. Since 1970, Conyers and his family have stuck with the city through good and bad times, refusing to flee the inner city as others have done. “In the late ’60s [after the riots], there were businesses leaving Detroit in droves. We said to ourselves, ‘If we go into business, we want to be in business in Detroit,’ “recalls Conyers. “The city was experiencing some pretty tough times then, and there were fewer and fewer dealerships in central city. We came into business to provide economic opportunity for ourselves and others here in the city.”

After experiencing financial rough spots through 28 years of business, Conyers’ dedication to

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