Duggan, Gilbert focus on opportunity in Detroit

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan said Thursday the city is becoming a “world-class place to put down your roots” and make an impact.

“We’re at a time where I think the trajectory is going the right way,” Duggan said. “We all know what the issues are. We’re no longer talking about streetlights out, getting grass cut in the parks. We’re making progress. We’re not talking all that much about balancing the budget. ”

The mayor made those remarks alongside Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert at a Pancakes & Politics event, where the two discussed the city’s image, opportunities and regional transit.

The event, themed “The Challenges of Building a World Class City,” was hosted by the Michigan Chronicle and held at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Gilbert also addressed the issue of opportunity in the city.

“If you have opportunities for people, for businesses, for jobs, for nonprofits, for people to express who they are through arts and anything else they want to do, that’s what young people are looking for,” he said. “Sometimes, most of the time ... they want to go to the place that has all the opportunities.”

Responding to a question regarding mid-career professionals feeling left out of the city’s changing employment and entrepreneurial landscape, Duggan said: “We can create opportunity, but you got to put yourself in the conversation.”

Gilbert also chimed in with: “You have to ignore that noise. Take the opportunity and don’t be afraid to fail.”

Regional transportation was another issue Duggan addressed, saying that he is confident that voters would pass a regional mass transit millage if one were placed on the November ballot.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks voiced opposition to a push for regional transit last month because he had not seen a master plan, a sentiment echoed by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

Lack of a regional transit system in Metro Detroit has been blamed by Gilbert and others as a major reason Detroit was passed up by Amazon recently for the location of the company’s second regional headquarters.

“At some point, this region is going to recognize that whether it’s Amazon, whether it’s Foxconn or any other major employer, we as a region are in competition with Chicago and Indianapolis and Pittsburgh for major employers,” Duggan said.

“How you move these workers to work is going to be a huge conversation. We’re going to have to get it fixed.”


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN