Detroit’s rebirth

Fighting through the clutter of the perpetually self-reinforcing Detroit paradigms (Egad! That City Council!), there is the fact that this place–on the river, an international border, surrounded by lakes, beautiful communities–offers so very much in terms of environment, entertainment and enthusiastic citizens and admirers from other places.

So it is surprising, and delightful, to see a story like this in a recent issue of Fast Company–a recognition that the delights, the oddities, and the prices, might just be an attraction to a creative class who could generate a new kind of economy here.

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Fast Company…Seven Tiny Tech Stories That Will Be Huge

Cities die, but they rarely disappear. So it will go with Detroit, where property values have fallen to pennies on the dollar. Yes, the American motor companies may have grossly mismanaged their businesses and eviscerated Detroit’s economic core in the process–to see just how, read this lecture–but there is indeed beauty in Detroit waiting to be salvaged. According to the AP, cheap homes are bringing in out-of-state buyers by the droves, if for no other reason than to indulge in the novelty of buying a $10 house.

For evidence of Detroit’s inevitable rebound, look no further than this online photo essay by Time magazine documenting the city’s delapidated architectural elegance. Untouched Queen Annie Victorians, stately public buildings and once-lavish neighborhoods beg for revitalization, and the prices expect it.

While it might seem quixotic to hope that the auto industry will rise again, it’s entirely within reason to believe that Detroit might find itself home to an information economy in the next decade. As startups look for space on the cheap in a worsening recession, and our larger economy transitions away from manufacturing and towards intellectual property and invention, a host of heretofore neglected cities might find themselves unlikely candidates for colonization by small, agile companies looking for the space to expand away from the excesses cost of New York, Boston or California.

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