Jeanette Pierce - Post 2: Why Detroit?
I get asked all the time, "Why would you want to live in Detroit?" to which I respond, "Let me tell you a little bit about my life. I can walk to over 130 bars and restaurants, from Cuban food to German food and from jazz music to techno. I can walk to over 13,000 theater seats, from Broadway to opera to avant garde. I can walk to Tigers games, Lions games and Red Wings games. I am blocks away from Campus Martius Park and all of its free concerts, movies and events. Then there's the amazing architecture, the Riverwalk, Eastern Market. I could go on and on, but the biggest reason I love living in Detroit, is the sense of community. Each one of those restaurants/bars is locally owned and operated. Sitting in the park, reading a book, I see my friends and neighbors ride by on bikes. We talk about business, politics, religion and all sorts of things at the bars, restaurants and shops. I get all the amenities of a big city with the community benefits of a small town…it's pretty darn amazing."
Many of you reading this have probably heard similar answers before, but do you know who hasn't? Thousands and thousands of college students across the region and the state as well as thousands of young professionals and artists that currently work in the region. Study after study has shown the importance of attracting and retaining talent to the economic future of Michigan and while there are a myriad of answers as to how to keep talent here, the simplest is to educate them on what our city and state has to offer.
We have given tours to different universities, from Wayne State to Saginaw Valley State, where we emphasize community and opportunity by introducing them to urban farming and successful small businesses. We've put on team building scavenger hunts for staff from the Marriott Renaissance Center and the Department of Labor and Economic Growth, helping them get out of their offices and notice things that they hadn't in their 30 years of working downtown. We've spoke at new hire orientations for Ernst and Young, and taken Miller Canfield interns on a tour so that they know all the benefits of working (and hopefully living) in Detroit.
The response afterwards is always the same. "I had no idea that Detroit had these kinds of things." or "I’ve worked downtown for 30 years and didn’t know half of this stuff." Or my favorite from a 2nd year University of Michigan student: "It hadn’t even crossed my mind to stay in Michigan after I graduated, but now I think I want to live in Detroit."
As a grassroots organization we have only been able to reach a miniscule percentage of the talented people in Michigan who have their eyes on seemingly greener pastures. My dream is to reach a critical mass of students, young professionals and other talented people and show them the Detroit that is full of creativity, opportunity and community because every one of them who chooses to stay in Michigan increases the state's chances of being successful in the future.