How Strong Is Metro Detroit as a Region in 2017?

“I would say the glass is three quarters full, especially considering where we have come from.”

Jerome Vaughn

For the past few years the Detroit Regional Chamber has looked at the broad picture of economic health in our region through its State of the Region report.

This year the report shows Gross Domestic Product growth lags behind the national average. But, the local economy is growing at a more rapid pace than the national average. More good news — individual income in our region is growing at a faster rate than almost any other major city region in the country. All of this comes with the delicate and difficult conversations that have to happen as an economy grows — who gets left behind, or is pushed aside, to make way for bigger business and more people?

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of  Detroit Regional Chamber, about what’s behind Detroit’s economic gains.

“There’s no one thing that you can point to that says, ‘Oh, this is the one thing that we did right.’ It is a combination of multiple things both from the private and public sector that have not only been done right, but also have been done in unison, and it’s really hard to overstate the power of alignment.”

On the other hand, Henderson points out that the report’s strong economic numbers are in contrast to Detroit’s educational and infrastructural shortcomings.

“Red flashing light number one, as you said, is absolutely educational attainment,” says Baruah.  “We are towards the bottom of our peer group. We are below the national average, and we are a nation that is actually slipping compared to our global peers on educational attainment. So as we as a state and a region are slipping amongst even that group, that is not a good sign.”

Still, Baruah says, “as in any economy, we certainly have some flashing lights on our radar here. However, if you are one of these glass half full, glass half empty people, I would say the glass is three quarters full, especially considering where we have come from.”

To hear the full conversation, click the audio player above.


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.