Sometimes the right choices are the hardest ones.
Detroit’s bankruptcy is a defining moment in the life of a great city. While no one can say for certain what lies ahead, there’s more reason to believe this is the start of a new beginning, not a final chapter with a sad ending. Bankruptcy gives City government the opportunity to restructure its finances so it can deliver better police, sanitation and transit services. One can only imagine how much additional growth Detroit could experience if it was safer, cleaner and more effective given the unprecedented level of private investment, foundation support and influx of young professionals occurring today.
The Governor said it best when he called on all of us to look at bankruptcy not as an end, but the beginning of improving the lives of the 700,000 people living in Detroit and those who come to work there every day.
No one can be surprised bankruptcy happened. Business Leaders for Michigan’s predecessor, Detroit Renaissance, funded the completion of restructuring plans for nearly every Administration over the past thirty years. Each one identified a looming crisis and outlined steps that would save money and improve services. But few of the recommendations were fully implemented and many were ignored.
But if you believe, as I do, that we’re at the start of a new beginning for our largest city, how can we make sure we get off to a great start? Until we’re out of bankruptcy, the Emergency Manager needs to make sure essential city services are maintained. The Mayor and Council that will be elected in November need to be especially accountable, transparent, and effective.
But it will take more than that. No matter where we live, we should recognize that when Detroit wins, Michigan wins. We should celebrate the positive momentum underway, embrace being a “Detroiter” and support this comeback story, by talking it up with our friends and neighbors.
In the short run, Detroit and Michigan will take a hit to our image from the bankruptcy filing. But after the first few days of media frenzy, we have the opportunity to tell the world we’re charting a new future.
Bankruptcy gives Detroit the fastest opportunity to become America’s comeback city. Governor Snyder made a hard decision and the right one.
By Doug Rothwell, President & CEO, Business Leaders for Michigan.