Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Quest to Remake the Motor City

At the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB), we are huge proponents, advocates and supporters of local government and community innovation. We're in the business of assisting local government explore their role in successful economic development, understanding better where public sector investment could inspire a greater private sector contribution and better influence economic health (and clarifying the role of local government). We, like many, are specifically interested in the amazing array of creative resurgence occurring in the City of Detroit. We’re seeing Detroit recreating itself through technology innovation, community organization and partnerships, and by implementing many shared service concepts that we fiercely advocate.

The CPBB is a unique, creative group with the philosophy that Cities (and all communities) must do things differently if they are to survive. In particular, Cities must collaborate with their public sector, private sector and non-profit partners to strategically and creatively deliver services.

The CPBB was on the forefront of recognizing Detroit’s resurgence when we spent a week last summer in Detroit immersing ourselves in the trenches of critical local government issues, and went straight into perhaps the most interesting experiment in economic development we could imagine: the complete economic redevelopment of a City. As the national media focused on bankruptcy and blight, we overlooked this focus on negativity and turned our lens on what we saw as the building blocks that were being developed to position Detroit for success. Our investigation led to a series of focused articles that were very well received locally and nationally.

Our first article, focusing on the neighborhoods of the City of Detroit, Reversing the Trend: Might Corktown Hold the Key to a Greater Detroit Neighborhood Resurgence?, provided background context on the city's challenges and how entrepreneurship is playing a driving role in reshaping the downtown core and, slowly, the inner city neighborhoods. Our second article, Detroit: Bankrupt, but Not Broken, cast a spotlight on city governance through an interview with Nolan Finely of the Detroit Free Press. Our third article, Opportunity Detroit! Future City USA?, focused on Detroit's burgeoning entrepreneurial start-up and tech sector, and how this explosion of new business development is having a transformative effect on the city. 

When most folks think of Detroit, they typically think of bankruptcy, thousands of abandoned homes
and structures, a shrinking city and/or a city in an unavoidable spiral of decline and mayhem. At the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, we see a city bursting with a strong sense of civic pride and very possibly entering a period of significant redevelopment, economic resurgence and endless opportunities for the city and its public/private partners to improve services. We see a city on the verge of joining the Metropolitan Revolution!

To find out exactly what is happening in Detroit, we'll be on the ground for the next month (March 13th through April 12th). We'll be walking neighborhoods, the downtown core (Midtown), interviewing prominent civic leaders, talking to independent business owners, drinking coffee with the new wave of urban pioneers leaving cities like Brooklyn and Portland to relocate to Detroit, cheering the Detroit Red Wings to (hopefully) a playoff berth, attending the Detroit Tigers opening day game and assessing public/private partnerships to better understand what is motivating these opportunities and a possible Detroit resurgence.

We'll also be focusing on the surge of partner and independent services that are occurring as another major research opportunity. We want to find out for ourselves how these models work, are they successful, is there collaboration between the City and non-profit/private sectors, where more successful initiatives can be gained and what is on the horizon. We’ll be following up with many folks we initially interviewed last Fall while simultaneously reaching out to others who are committed to their community.

We’ve also teamed up with the Michigan Municipal League to get a better sense of how local government communities across the state are weathering the economy and to discover all the innovative practices they've implemented. The Center for Priority Based Budgeting is proud to partner with the Michigan Municipal League for a full-day presentation in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 9th. We'll be presenting Achieving Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting. Register here.

We'll be posting updates on our blog and live tweeting as we gain a better understanding of just what's happening in Detroit (and beyond)! Be sure to follow the CPBB investigation into one of the most unique and relevant local government issues facing the nation today!

Detroit clearly has a long way to go and we want to follow this unique "urban experiment" as close as possible. And get involved in any way that we can! Since our last visit, Detroit has elected a new Mayor, a new City Council and has been pushing bankruptcy proceedings through the courts. We now want to follow up on what we previously observed and better understand what more has been accomplished in support of Detroit’s continued resurgence. 

We have historic ties to Detroit. CPBB Co-founder Chris Fabian and Chief Creative Officer Erik Fabian were both born in Berkley. Our father worked at SE Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the Motor Vehicle Manufacturer's Association in Detroit for many years before moving the family to Denver in the mid-80's. Our Grandma worked for Detroit Elevator for 23 years before passing in Royal Oak in November 2012. We still have other family and friends in Royal Oak, Farmington Hills and Detroit and always make a point of staying abreast of current trends in our native State.

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting prides itself on developing and staying ahead of the latest innovative, creative and effective local government trends across the country. Lately these include:
And now we will be hitting the streets of Detroit in an effort to understand and identify what this city is doing to recover from bankruptcy, decades of political corruption and inefficient government service delivery. The lessons learned will be interesting, and possibly ground-breaking, as Detroit identifies how to thrive once again in this "New Wave" of Local Government

Keep an eye on the CPBB blog for further updates. Sign-up for our social media pages so you stay connected with TEAM CPBB!

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If you're thinking of jumping into the world of Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting we would certainly like to be part of your efforts! Contact us to schedule a free webinar and identify the best CPBB service option(s) to meet your organization's particular needs.


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