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How Significant is Detroit’s Comeback? National Urban Policy Expert Amy Liu Weighs In

Amy Liu

Our inner cities are a disaster,” President Donald Trump said last year in a campaign debate.

You get shot walking to the store… they have no education… they have no jobs” he said.

Throughout his campaign, during his inaugural speech, and in the early days of his presidency, Trump has painted a dark picture of modern American cities and metropolitan areas.

That’s in stark contrast to local politicians — especially Republicans — who tout Detroit as a “comeback city” and an emerging economic driver for the region and the entire state.

The major debate here is whether that revitalization benefits anyone outside the city’s core.

How should we approach urban policy in 2017? How do we make sure that cities are centers of economic opportunity and high quality of life? And how do we make sure that those opportunities and that quality of life is accessible to as many people as possible?

The Brookings Institution’s Amy Liu is a national expert on cities and metropolitan areas who focuses on translating research and insights into action on the ground. She’ll be a featured speaker at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island.

I do give the president credit for shedding light on the need to invest in our urban areas,” says Liu. “Unfortunately, it is too characterized the way he described the inner city.”

In fact, if this is about distressed communities or concentrated poverty, what we know is the bulk of concentrated distress is now in suburban areas, not just in urban areas… So when we think about opportunity, it shouldn’t just be about the distress in the urban core, we need to think about how do we lift up all neighborhoods, whether it’s in the city, in the older suburbs and core counties in the larger metropolitan area?”

Click on the audio player above the hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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