Detroit’s emergence from bankruptcy in 2014 created an unprecedented opportunity to reinvest in Detroit’s people, neighborhoods, government and community development infrastructure. Two years later, a number of signs point to a resurgent, more economically stable Detroit.

To better understand the contours of Detroit’s revitalization and reinvestment, The Kresge Foundation gathered data to capture perceptions about the city. The Kresge Foundation’s Detroit Reinvestment Index measures what national business leaders think about Detroit. This dataset is the first in a series of research the Foundation we will be releasing about Detroit – and American cities more broadly.

98% of business leaders believe it is possible for cities to overcome and recover from significant challenges.

When thinking about what makes a city an attractive place, business leaders cite:

  • Good Public Transit
  • Low Crime
  • Racial and Cultural Diversity
  • Low Cost of Living
  • Effective Local Government
  • City Potential
  • Economic Opportunity For All

Low taxes ranked the highest in importance.

Detroit is on the rise

71% of business leaders see Detroit as a good place to invest for their business

Business leaders give Detroit high marks for being a city in economic recovery.

Despite the city having emerged from bankruptcy in late 2014, there is relatively little knowledge of Detroit’s current fiscal situation.

Only 16%

of business leaders are aware that Detroit is out of bankruptcy.

In describing Detroit, business leaders have positive perceptions.

The key reasons include:

  • the city’s racial, ethnic and cultural diversity,
  • rich cultural history,
  • effective local government,
  • low cost of living,
  • and low taxes.

Yes, there are still challenges: Business leaders say Detroit needs to improve its crime rate. 80 percent believe a low crime rate is essential for success, but only 52 percent rate Detroit as “excellent or good” on crime.

Still, business leaders are bullish about Detroit

Especially among those who have stronger ties to the city. Respondents who have lived, worked, conducted operations, or invested in Detroit generally view the city more favorably than those who haven’t.


of business leaders have a connection to Detroit.


of business leaders have had business operations and investments in Detroit.


of business leaders have been to the city of Detroit.

Among respondents that have been to Detroit, over 60% have visited within the past two years.

The most important features of Detroit’s future and recovery according to business leaders:

23% ranked a turnaround of the auto industry

22% implementation of innovative approaches to urban development

21% the emergence of new industries

When asked about Detroit specifically, 84% of business leaders are confident that Detroit can become a great city again.

Methodology Note: The Kresge Foundation’s study measured perceptions of American cities and Detroit among national business leaders. Business leaders (N = 307) are senior leaders at mid- to large-size companies with influence over their companies’ global, high-level decisions. They exhibit the following attributes: work for a global company with at least 250 employees, and are involved in contracting, purchasing, sales, or related functions. The study measured (1) sentiment toward features and attributes relating to cities generally and (2) sentiment toward features and attributes relating to Detroit specifically. The survey was fielded online between November 6, 2015 and November 15, 2015.