How a City Like Detroit Should View Economic Development into the Future

What should cities like Detroit focus on when considering economic development?

Sandra Svoboda

Top-line economic growth does not ensure bottom-line prosperity. That’s according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, which argues that inclusivity has to be purposeful and strategic if it’s going to be part of urban renewal. It’s a subject that comes up frequently in Detroit. Last week former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference by insisting that exclusion defines far too much of Detroit’s recovery so far, and that if something isn’t done, if more people aren’t included, we risk the kinds of push-back that has made national headlines in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore.

The Brookings report lays out specifics about how to make economic development more inclusive. Joining Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to talk about it is Amy Liu, Vice President and Director of Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program.

“Overall we’re seeing an economy right now that is not generating enough good jobs,” says Liu.

Here are a few highlights from her report:

  • Set the right goals – expand the scope of economic development to both grow the economy and provide more opportunity.
  • Grow from within – prioritize established and emerging firms and industries.
  • Boost trade – facilitate export growth and trade with U.S. and global markets to deepen specialization and attract investment.
  • Invest in people and skills – incorporate skills development of workers as a priority for economic development and employers.
  • Connect place – catalyze place making and connect regional communities to jobs, housing, and opportunity.