To grow a city, one must have a blueprint…one that organizes the resources, that multiplies livability, and that increases the vitality of the city as it is progressively implemented each generation.
Detroit’s original blueprint was one of an iron muscle, people living in close quarters to their factories, with all basic amenities of a roaring blue collar town close by and with the energy of community in the forefront.
The definition of livability continues to adapt to the evolving way we interact with each other. The blueprint for a “New Paris of the Midwest” will be different than Detroit’s original footprint. In a way, the blight that has affected a third of Detroit’s acreage is a silver lining that makes way for a new, more vibrant Detroit.
Now, real, functioning structure must be laid atop the blueprint. The city must have the working infrastructure of commerce and community. Detroit must have functioning roads, trash removal, police, fire, EMS, courts, city planning, administration, and all of the means of governance that allow the city to efficiently grow, minimizing artificial impediments.
For a city to prosper economically, the city’s culture must be amenable to growth, to collaboration and innovation. Its people must want to share in the fruits of their labor so that everyone who contributes to the multiplying wealth of the city prospers as well. And the city must be inviting to all who would venture in with new ideas and capital.
With the rudiments of success in place, the city must commence preparing its people for growth. Each person is an asset that brings value to the city. How each person is molded as they pass through the infrastructure of the city from birth through adulthood will determine the wealth potential of the city.
A child can be nurtured through city’s infrastructure complex and can come out the other side ready to earn $250,000 a year contributing to the city’s growth. That same child can be trampled through the system and come out the other side a negative burden in the city’s welfare. The efficiency and focus of the city’s infrastructure in placing that child on a higher plane of earning potential then determines the ultimate wealth of the city.
Multiply the average preparation value of each child times the number of children exiting the preparation system and you can predict the direction of the city. If the average preparation value falls below a sustainable level, the value of the city will fall. I suggest that allowing a city to graduate only 22% of its students with only 2% ready for college is well below the level to sustain a city’s wealth.
No amount of Downtown facades will correct the deficiency of the city’s engine of growth, its people. Detroit, it is time to set your infrastructure on course with a thriving path.