cities | July 31, 2013

Detroit Files Bankruptcy—What's Next?: Shawn Micallef & Richard Florida

Last month, Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. What does this city's collapse foreshadow for the fiscal health of other American cities? Shawn Micallef and Richard Florida, both prominent cities speakers, don't think the future is as bleak as some foresee it to be. While there are certainly lessons other cities can learn from Detroit's downfall, both speakers have faith that the Motor City will be able to restore itself.

"I don't think this will spread to the rest of the United States," Florida tells PBS Newshour, "and I do think Detroit will come out stronger because of this." Micallef, who grew up in Windsor, Ontario, with only the Detroit River separating him from his American neighbor, also sees the strength in the city. "Those who say let it go, let Detroit fall because it’s too far gone, have not seen what people from Windsor have seen for decades," he writes in Hazlitt. "A great American city that still has life and will figure itself out." He adds: "Detroit has to change and it will."

"There are real winners and losers in this economy," Florida says, and while Detroit has failed now, it has the potential to bring itself back to life."You have to be diverse," Florida argues. "The cities that are having trouble are the manufacturing regions that have not revitalized and developed their knowledge assets and diversified." To avoid total collapse, cities need to both hone their niche and be able expand their economic capabilities. Micallef believes Detroit is capable of this kind of rejuvenation."I always get goose bumps when I watch that Eminem/Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” Super Bowl commercial and think of the human spirit it shows," he concludes. "Resiliency in the face of another round of economic devastation they did not bring upon themselves, a continued love of the city despite the bruises and open wounds, of never being ashamed to be from a place that makes its people incredibly strong."

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politics | July 30, 2013