THE ECONOMIST: Detroit is working again

 In News Article

Despite big problems, the city that sums up American success and failure is looking pretty positive

Under Mayor Mike Duggan, in his tenth year, the government has courted investment by offering itself not just as provider of tax incentives and expediter of permits but as real-estate agent and hr department. Stellantis built the first new auto-assembly plant in Detroit in more than 30 years—a $1.6bn investment, constructed as the pandemic raged—after the city traded 200 acres for a promise to give residents first crack at the jobs. . . . Of 30,000 Detroiters referred by the city, Stellantis has hired some 8,600, at the plant and elsewhere. “It didn’t do me any good to land a plant in Detroit and hire a bunch of suburbanites,” says Mr Duggan, a practical, old-school liberal in the mould of Joe Biden, to whom he is close. “My job was to get Detroiters to work.” By the beginning of the year, Detroit’s unemployment rate had dropped below 7% for the first time since 2000. Mr Duggan boasts that “at this point, anybody in this city who wants to work has a job available.” . . . “I think across the country folks believe the people of Detroit didn’t deserve what happened,” Mr Duggan says. “There’s been no shortage of people willing to help.” . . . Under Mr Duggan, Detroit has demolished or sold 40,000 vacant houses; it has about 12,000 to go. Yet Mr Duggan also finds himself with high-class headaches no Detroit mayor has had for generations. As parts-makers move to be near the new assembly plants, he cannot come up with enough space for a battery factory. “Really,” he says, “at this point, I wish I had another three or four hundred acres.”

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