Monday, January 5, 2009

On to a new year

2008 was a tough year for Detroit. Kwame went to jail, the auto industry collapsed, the Lions went 0-16, many major projects were scaled back or eliminated (think Cadillac Center, new Quicken headquarters), Detroit Public Schools fell into further disarray, and just about every piece of copper plumbing in the city was stolen by scrappers.

Yeah, it was a tough year. But it wasn't all bad. Structural changes are finally being made to reposition the city post-recession. Detroit is closer to building mass transit than it's ever been (see TRU). Thanks to the Greenways Initiative, the Detroit Agricultural Network, Greening of Detroit and others, new trees, gardens, and greenways are popping up across the city -- most visibly along the riverfront and through the Dequindre Cut. The city finally has a realistic shot at curbside recycling. Major non-profits are underwriting the arts and new creative enterprises. Detroit Renaissance, among others, is working to restructure Detroit's economy and grow new businesses.

I could go on. 2009 will be another tough year (the city's unemployment rate is already 21.6%), but it won't be all bad and it's bound to be interesting. Now that I'm back in Michigan, I'll be updating regularly as the mayoral elections get underway and the new year begins. Some things to watch for: Will we fund mass transit? Who will lead DPS? What projects will the federal stimulus fund? Who will build the second span to Canada -- Matty Moroun or the government? Will Quicken still move downtown? Will the Illitch family announce a new hockey arena? Will Cobo expand? And just how bad will things get before the economy turns around?

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