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Editorial: One Detroit for everyone

The Detroit News

As Detroit continues to rebound, the city's growing economy must include enthusiastic newcomers as well as those who were here when no one else wanted to be.

That was a major point in Mayor Mike Duggan's recent State of the City address, and it's critical to Detroit's future.

There's healthy excitement over the infusion of new talent, residents and businesses into the city. No doubt Detroit's prospects would be much dimmer without them. But there must be enough room for people of all colors and backgrounds to be part of the revitalization.

The city will do itself a disservice if it overlooks demographics of a downtown and other trendy areas that are wildly out of proportion with the rest of the city, which is 83 percent African-American. It must work a little harder to pull two Detroits into one and end the self-segregation and racial tension that has held the region back for decades.

Affordable housing isn't a solution in and of itself, but it's a promising way to foster diversity in Detroit's new and recovering neighborhoods. It will also narrow the economic and cultural gap between thriving places like downtown and Midtown and the neighborhoods.

Detroit's growing job market must also be inclusive and accessible. The skills training initiatives outlined by the mayor and Gov. Rick Snyder are essential elements in assuring that Detroiters are qualified for the jobs being created in the city.

Detroit is still the poorest big city in the U.S., with a 48 percent poverty level. The city's revitalization will mean little if its job creation and economic growth doesn't reach the neighborhoods and the chronically unemployed.

Emphasis on skilled trades training and career tech education will make it easier for Detroiters of all economic backgrounds to participate in the city's exciting growth. And job creators must take those extra steps to recruit and train Detroiters.

Duggan announced Motor City Match, an initiative backed by federal and foundation dollars, to make $500,000 available every quarter for people who want to start businesses in the city. Hopeful entrepreneurs can keep coming back to the initiative to seek funding, even if they've been rejected.

These kinds of programs can make entrepreneurship a reality for Detroiters. The city should continue to market them to young people, with a particular focus on getting more African-Americans involved in the revival.

All this economic opportunity will mean little without further improvements to safety, schools and other essential services. Hanging onto and attracting middle class families will continue to be one of its greatest long-term challenges.

Detroit's past is marked by episodes of tumult and resentment. Its future must sidestep those mistakes. Providing equal attention — and opportunity — to newcomers and those who have always called Detroit home is a good place to start.