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The Reconstruction Of Detroit

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Detroit needs to reconstruct and stabilize its economy, as Pittsburgh has done. Today, unemployment is at nearly 19% and its population has severely declined leaving less property or income taxes to pull from to fight fires or crime or repair infrastructure. To get a new financial start, the city declared bankruptcy on July 18, 2013. It could no longer pay pensions or other debts largely due to poor government.

The city reports that Chief Financial Officers (CEOs) of Detroit are "feeling optimistic about their business prospects for the third quarter" and most "expressed confidence in their company's upcoming growth." So what is being done to improve the city's economic status and give its residents hope? Here, four reconstruction methods are shared that will help shape the future of Detroit.

Sprouting Green

Urban gardens are sprouting around the city through the Greening of Detroit. This nonprofit resource organization purchases land from the city and creates community gardens, as well as working with the city on developing gardening spots in rundown city parks and employing residents to help with the revitalization. Started as a grassroots organization in 1989, the Greening of Detroit has worked to "improve the ecosystem in Detroit through tree planting projects, environmental education, urban agriculture, open space reclamation, vacant land management and workforce development programs."

Incentives For Growth

The city is luring new businesses to Detroit by offering various tax incentives. There are tax incentives for industrial facilities and a range of other programs. For instance, a business locating in an empowerment zone may (1) obtain a tax deduction for environmental cleanup costs of the business' property, (2) be eligible for lower interest rates on certain loans, and (3) get tax credits for hiring workers that were on government assistance or live in the empowerment zone. Many other incentives are available to appeal to a wide range of companies.

Boardrooms To Streets

Wayne State University (WSU) runs the finding and hiring of promising professionals for the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program with funding from various foundations and ventures. The two-year program just brought in another 23 people as fellows in August 2013 to help with the city's economic revitalization and rebuilding. Fellows are hired by different companies giving an economic voice to that company while also working within the community. They also attend classes at WSU to aid them in their economic revitalization work. Sixteen of these fellows either already live in the Detroit area or are returning home.

Residential Demolition

The city has a large number of vacant or abandoned residential properties. To clean up neighborhoods affected by too many dangerous properties that are not maintained or lived in, outgoing Mayor Dave Bing has demolished over one-third of the 10,000 buildings to be torn down under the Residential Demolition Program. This helps to reduce crime and bring stability to neighborhoods

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