Detroit’s strength as a business location is evident through its successes. Since 2012, Detroit has seen almost $1 billion invested in automotive manufacturing at new and existing suppliers and $96 million invested in over 14 full-service grocery stores. Downtown Detroit’s office vacancy rate has fallen 12 percent in the past five years to 17.5 percent. Additionally, according to the 2014-2015 Annual Michigan Venture Capital Fund Research report, Detroit is becoming a new focal point of venture capital activity, with 24 firms receiving $186 million in investment. Over 52 percent of those are tech-related. The Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGC) works to create employment and promote commercial and industrial growth in Detroit.
For nearly 40 years, DEGC has served as the lead nonprofit economic development entity in Detroit, and the team supports existing businesses and brings new companies and investments to the city. From identifying potential development sites and negotiating development agreements, to managing construction projects and eliminating obstacles to growth, DEGC is dedicated to being an advocate for businesses large and small. It serves as Detroit’s economic development experts and a one-stop shop for both emerging and expanding businesses. DEGC’s target population is the City of Detroit and it has helped businesses create new jobs and leverage private investment by providing technical, financial and development assistance to the business community, from the small entrepreneur to the multinational corporation. Although it is the center of the Metro Detroit region, it is the most distressed. The ethnic and cultural diversity of Detroit’s residents represents many opportunities for retail and commercial investors, however, barriers to investment in these underserved neighborhoods persist.
With Detroit at a new crossroads, the DTE Energy Foundation’s support provides operating support for technical, financial and developmental assistant to businesses expanding or establishing their operations in Detroit and to manage infrastructure and construction projects necessary to improve and prepare the city for new investment. The Foundation understood that new opportunities exist today that warrant different strategies and approaches. Therefore, the partnership also includes support for:
- Sector strategy and implementation – This includes a comprehensive economic development strategy that focuses on opportunities in target industries, but also explores workforce/talent, real estate, infrastructure interdependencies.
- Business attraction platform – This area focuses on design and implementation of a major business attraction platform to showcase Detroit’s assets for key stakeholders.
- Global commerce initiative – This program attracts inbound FDI and creates a global commerce and export trade initiative to assist exciting employers.