Scholar: now is the time for the post-car era.
There is an elevated train from downtown Detroit. Known as the people’s zoo, it provides passengers with a spectacular view of the early century skyscrapers that make up most of Detroit’s skyline. Many of these buildings are now empty, suggesting that this is a troubled city.
Michigan has the highest unemployment rate, at 12.6%. Detroit’s unemployment rate is even higher. But it will not fail in the cities that produce model-t and Motown. Richard Florida says if the city and the region can surpass the auto industry.
Florida is a professor of business and creativity at the university of Toronto and author of “who is your city” and other books. He is a leading expert in regional growth and attracting talent. According to Florida, people are focusing on the wrong things.
“I know of the economic crisis this time, people are said to work will come from where, apparently must provide good to focus on work, but at the same time, it is not only to attract companies, enterprises and work, it must be about retention, attract and motivate people,” he warns.
So how does a city like Detroit or a city like Michigan do that? Florida in these difficult times offered what he thought might seem like a strange idea.
“Rather than helping auto companies get out of the mess and providing industry incentives for upcoming companies and creating low-skill dead ends, why not use the same money to support entrepreneurship? And encourage people to take real risks. “Coming to Detroit and starting my own business, I think the region must realize that the future of the car may be better,” he said.
Florida stressed that the idea worked in the past. Silicon valley 40 or 50 years ago, and the recent post-steel thinking in Pittsburgh. Florida’s urban population is shrinking, but Pittsburgh says, “it’s becoming more innovative and entrepreneurial, and in fact the quality of life in Pittsburgh has improved a lot.”
He thinks the same thing will happen in Detroit.
“I think Detroit’s greatest tragedy is the tragedy of the separation of city and region, it is a big part is the core of African americans, is surrounded by most of the whites, and to some extent, a suburb immigration,” he said. “When I saw Detroit, I saw a huge urban energy legacy and a reservoir.”
Florida believes it can overcome crime, bother schools and, most importantly, help bring jobs. Especially if the whole area comes together. “Beautiful college towns like Ann arbor and Lansing, if the region can work together, the city will be much larger than the sum of its parts.”
If Florida sounds too optimistic to some people, he is not. He also share the common fear: “for places like Detroit, it is a very big risk, it can only be in a new innovation and energy in a new way to reinvent themselves, this is the hope of it, this is the only hope for the future. “