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All eyes on Detroit

April 2, 2009

This week our country’s attention turned to Detroit. After decades of decay, the deterioration of what once was a great American city has   noticed by the rest of the country with two big developments.  The first being the NCAA Tourney this weekend.

The Washington Post today profiled the recent efforts by the NCAA to help Detroit out while they take over the city by donating $250,000 to the United Way and by donating uneaten food to local food banks.  But once the Tournament and all of the media leave Detroit, will all of that good-will and national charitable spirit leave with them?  Many see this tournament as a chance to boost Detroit.  But Detroit was home to the Superbowl as well as the World Series in recent years and did not see much improvement, which leaves me skeptical.

Moving on (no pun intended here), the recent ouster of Rick Wagoner as the CEO of GM, as well as a new 30-day deadline for a Chrysler-Fiat deal has brought further attention to the failures taking place in Michigan.  For many years now I have disagreed with the choices made by the Big Three (though for the most part Ford seems to be doing OK), and while the collapse or bankruptcy of any of them would be devastating to the Michigan/national economy, I think that GM and Chrysler need to sleep in the bed they’ve made.  These companies continued to operate on dated business models, and failed to innovate at a competitive pace.  Their failure will devastate millions of households and communities across the country, it is with this reality in mind that I hope GM, Chrysler, and the Car Dealer in Chief make all of their decisions going forward – and not based on the best interests of their balance sheets.

But Michigan is a resilient state, and when the going gets tough, the tough head out to the lakes to enjoy the view and a few hours away from the harsh reality waiting for them at home.

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