Only just emerging from a severe winter, as evidenced by the mounds of dirty snow in the streets, Detroit begins to dream of a spring that is not only to do with climate. The metropolis of the Great Lakes, the epicenter of the old industrial heart of America, the “rust belt”, took the heavy brunt of the great recession in 2008 and experienced an automotive crisis of unprecedented proportions. Today, the entire US economic machine is equally distributed once more and Detroit and Michigan won their share in resuming to do what they do best: manufacturing cars. Michigan vehicle production had touched a historic low of 1.1 million vehicles in 2009. Last year, no fewer than 2.6 million vehicle rolled off the assembly lines of “Motor Town” and its regional plants.
In December, production jumped by 9.1%. For three years, General Motors (GM), Ford and Chrysler-Fiat invested hundreds of millions of dollars into their factories around the area to revamp flagship products, like the new version of the Ford F150 or the future Bolt GM electric car. Sitting on the lands of Henry Ford and Cadillac, the historical sentimentality for the “Big Three” is not lost. Besides the federal plan to support the automotive sector initiated by Barack Obama at the height of the economic crisis along with social concessions accepted by the powerful union UAW, Michigan has secured $ 2.9 billion in tax exemptions. Such is the price of survival against the modern factories of southern US states, where Asian and European manufacturers thrive. Michigan accounted for 23.4% of the American automobile production in December and found its true colors.
On the employment front, Michigan’s unemployment rate (13.2% in 2010) fell to 6.3% in December. Although Detroit is definitely on its way, there remains a lot of road left to cover until it flourishes once more. The abandoned houses, empty buildings and cancelled construction sites speak volumes about how the crisis had reached its tendrils into the heart of the American economy, family and entrepreneurial spirit. “Motor City” is no longer dying, but not yet vibrant. However, we cannot deny the steady pounding of revolution occurring in Detroit as companies attract the work force back into the city and more and more public services make the neighborhoods lively and amicable. The silver lining still remains that if Detroit can pick itself back up with federal funding and support and the people’s strength, then anything is possible.