Detroit’s Renaissance

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

previously worked for Ford Motor Co., got hired on with GM as a joint and fastener test coordinator contracted t
hrough its Modern Engineering division.

As a transplanted New Yorker, Griselle views Detroit as “the smallest big city” in the world because everyone seems to be able to quickly identify people through family names and high school affiliations. She also continues to be amazed at how affordable it is to live in Detroit and the surrounding areas. “Our home is huge, with some land, which we bought for $250,000. In New York a home like this would be so expensive and unattainable for most.”

The jobs and money created by the Big Three automakers is unparalleled. GM’s recent purchase of the Renaissance Center, located along the Detroit River, is expected to increase the number of employees downtown, raise tax revenues and stimulate the addition of more retail shops and restaurants. Chrysler has invested about $5 billion in Detroit since 1992, with $900 million of that in a state-of-the-art engine plant it built last year. Chrysler, the third-largest domestic automobile company, has also chosen to build its latest hot new car, the Prowler, in the Motor City. In all, Chrysler has 11,000 employees in the city, including some of the highest-paid production workers in the country.

Chrysler Vice President of Government Affairs Frank Fountain says the company is committed to the economic growth of Detroit and the inclusion of African Americans in its workforce. “We believe we’re helping the mayor and others who are working hard to revitalize the city,” he says. “As a company of 125,000 employees, about 27% of our total are minorities, and a significant amount make up management personnel.”

Beyond jobs, the automaker gives generous support to the Detroit community through donations to the school district and flourishing cultural center. “The philanthropic arm of the company contributes substantially to the arts, including hefty ongoing donations to the newly built Museum of African American History, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Not to be outdone, Ford has contracts with approximately 20 African American suppliers in the Detroit area and recently opened up the Detroit-based UAW/Ford Training Center.

DETROIT POPULATION BY RACE

White 21.6%
Black 75.7
American Indian/Eskimo 0.4
Asian 0.8
Other 1.5
Source: Michigan Employment Security Commission
DETROIT EMPLOYMENT BY INDUSTRY
Service’s 29.3%
Manufacturing 21.6
Retail trade 17.7
Gov’t 12.8
Wholesale trade 5.6
Finance/ins/real estate 5.3
Transportation/comm./utilities 4.3
Construction/mining 3.6
Source: Michigan Employment Security Commission

BRIDGING THE GAP
Beyond city development and job opportunities lies the center of concern for most residents–quality of life. Without question, two areas that impact the quality of life in any city are crime and education. Over the years, Detroit has been brutalized in both local and national press for falling short. Now there’s evidence to suggest Detroit is taking control of its situation, cleaning house and reversing its tarnished image.

New Detroit Inc. is a 30-year-old agency devoted to positive race relations through academic achievement and economic equity. The agency monitors the progress of the nation’s seventh-largest public school district. After the results are tallied, it publishes an

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