Philanthropist Says Detroit’s Turnaround Started Before It Filed for Bankruptcy

by San Antonio Attorney

There are a number of new developments happening around the downtown Detroit that it may be hard to identify exactly when Detroit started its turnaround.  People will probably consider the city’s municipal bankruptcy as the turning point but some observers think that it would undermine the groundwork laid before the municipality’s bankruptcy.

In 2007, a large part of the RiverWalk was opened.  Quicken Loans headquarters was slated to move downtown, the New Economy Initiative commenced to promote entrepreneurship, and D-Town Farm was expanding.

In 2000, the National Football League gave Detroit its Super Bowl in 2006.  This encouraged business and civic leaders to come together and clean the downtown area, improve the streets with better lighting and wider sidewalks.

Rip Rapson, CEO and president of the Kresge Foundation, said in one interview that the attitude slowly adopted by philanthropic foundations of the city is quite important.

That recent attitude centered on how philanthropy could be a very significant influence in shaping the destiny of Detroit.

Thus, instead of waiting for qualified organizations to ask for grants, leaders of philanthropic foundations actively look for ways to move ahead in order to improve the city.

One of the programs they’ve come up with was the New Economy Initiative.   Backed by 12 foundations who collectively gave over $100 million, the Initiative has provided assistance to around 4,400 companies and facilitated in changing the ways of southeast Michigan from being completely reliant on huge corporations to one more entrepreneurial and agile than before.

Philanthropy surely made a big difference in the city when it provided funding during the bankruptcy process.  Kresge, Community Foundation, Ford Foundation and others came up with the “Grand Bargain” that saved the artwork owned by the Detroit Institute of Arts and repelled excessive cuts to pensions of retirees in the city.


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