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Destination: Detroit

Filed by KOSU News in Business.
January 31, 2012

A moody wintertime fog drifts through the skies as our plane lands early in Detroit. The city is in the midst of a financial crisis and could be on the verge of a state takeover. But signs of a comeback in the auto industry bode well for the Motor City’s long-term economic recovery.

“The greatest thing that could happen for us is job creation,” Mayor Dave Bing said. He joined Tell Me More’s Michel Martin in a live broadcast from member station WDET in Detroit. “My job is not to create jobs but to create the environment for jobs,” he added.

Mayor Bing said Detroit’s downtown is leading the way. Businesses like the Detroit Medical Center, Blue Cross and Quicken Loans offer cash incentives to employees who are willing to move and live in the city.

Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, said he is determined to recruit the “brightest and best businesses” to come to the city. There is a “brain drain in Michigan,” Gilbert told Michel Martin. “We are trying to turn it around to a brain gain,” he added.

Gilbert has become one of Detroit’s most influential landlords. He just added the Federal Reserve building to a growing list of properties he’s bought in the city as he tries to make Detroit a destination of young and old. Although parts of Detroit feel like a ghost town, the lines at the Fillmore Theatre last night were winding across the street as fans waited for a Lenny Kravitz concert with Raphael Saadiq opening the show. It was a reminder that this still is a vibrant music town.

Singer, songwriter K’Jon is a Detroit native. His 2009 song, ‘On the Ocean,’ set the record for the longest run on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. K’Jon told Michel Martin that Detroit continues to be a source of inspiration for his work.

“There’s a pressure to succeed because, of course, you have Motown and all the great entertainers that have come out the city. We still carry the torch,” K’Jon said. “We have some of the biggest names in Detroit, like Eminem and Kid Rock and Aretha Franklin … but Detroit has been very inspirational to what I write about and what I sing about, and how I’ve developed into a man and as a businessman.”

In anticipation of our live broadcast from Detroit, WDET asked its listeners online and on the radio to tell us, in 25 words of less, what we should know about Detroit.

John Luther, a director and choreographer in the metro Detroit echoed the views of a vibrant and robust artist community in the city, “Detroit equals Theatre! The Fisher, The Masonic, The Opera House, The Gem, Detroit Rep, Mosaic, The Baldwin, The Ringwald, The Century, The Fox, The Music Hall.” And he asked Michel to check out the theatre scene on her next reporting trip to the Motor City. You can check out all the other comments by going here.

And for this trip, we sought Instagram photos tagged #Detroit, illustrating the city’s past and present. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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