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Building a Better Detroit

A new era of cooperation is moving Detroit forward.
Page 50
By Mike Duggan

Partnership and progress.

As much as any others, those two words characterize the city of Detroit right now. Even with the backdrop of bankruptcy, Detroiters are starting to see more progress than they have in a long time. And it is partnerships that are making it happen.

With the help of our partners on City Council, led by my friend President Brenda Jones, Detroit has a new public lighting authority that is moving across the city installing 500 new LED street lights every week. To date, more than 5,000 have been installed and every neighborhood in Detroit will be relit to national illumination standards by the end of 2015.

We also have a new land bank authority that is more effectively fighting blight and running an incredibly successful online auction of city owned homes at Soon, the land bank will have the resources amassed by our partners at the Detroit Blight Task Force, which will make our fight against blight even more effective.

Partnerships in the business community also are bringing progress to Detroit.

As we all know, city government doesn’t have the resources to do everything it needs to do. So we put out a call to our business leaders to help us in developing a lean processing culture we are beginning to instill in city government. Dozens responded and just two weeks ago we kicked off 18 lean process initiatives that have city employees working hand in hand with our corporate friends to make city government work better for our taxpayers.

In our neighborhoods, Talmer Bank has stepped up to commit a total of $1 million in forgivable loans of up to $25,000 to individuals who purchase homes that were seized by the land bank in our Marygrove neighborhood and placed for auction on our website.

Partnership is also bringing progress in our neighborhood parks.

Last year, the city maintained fewer than 25 of its parks. This year dozens of business and community organizations have stepped up to help and have adopted more than 65 neighborhood parks. Added to the 180 the city is committing to maintain, more than 250 city parks will be groomed and cleaned regularly for children to play in throughout the year.

In Lansing, the city of Detroit also has benefitted from the coalition of lawmakers who joined together to pass tough new legislation to place tighter controls on scrappers and scrap metal dealers, to address the problem of scrap metal theft that harms communities across Michigan.

Partnership and progress.

As we begin this year’s Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference, we can see the results of collaboration occurring here in the city of Detroit. We all have a tremendous opportunity before us this week to move our region and our state forward. I look forward to a constructive dialogue, to strengthening existing partnerships and developing new ones.

Working together, we can build a better Detroit, and a better Michigan.

Mike Duggan is mayor of Detroit.