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Detroit mayor offers moving, encouraging vision for the city

Detroit, From the President

Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson issued a statement in response to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s sixth State of the City address delivered March 4, 2019: 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan painted a bold vision for Detroit on Tuesday night in his State of the City address. He spoke of a city rebuilding its jobs base at an accelerating pace by working with employers from start-ups to industrial giants like FCA, Ford Motor and Flex-N-Gate; a city recommitted to seeing its residents employed, educated, housed and kept safe.

As a philanthropy deeply committed to the revitalization of the city of its founding, we at The Kresge Foundation were moved and heartened when the mayor staked the future on being “a city that’s committed to creating job opportunities for everyone.” We were moved and heartened when he committed to the maintenance and the expansion of affordable housing, so as to “not let the folks who stayed (in the city) get pushed out.” We were moved and heartened by the promise that by the end of this year, there will be no more open and vacant houses in this city. Every home will be occupied or boarded.

Kresge President & CEO Rip Rapson and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan attend the Detroit Home Mortgage press conference in February 2017.

These are all melodies that are also in the Kresge songbook as it were.

For Kresge, the extension of the revitalization from downtown and Midtown to the breadth of the city’s neighborhoods continues to be the fundamental challenge.  It’s a challenge whose multiple facets can only be addressed by the combined efforts of residents, government, business, nonprofits and philanthropy acting in concert. And the mayor reminded us that together we are making progress and gaining traction beyond the key southern miles of the Woodward Corridor.

Having made the first $15 million pledge to the Mayor’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund, we marked as good news that it has now reached $85 million, all committed to 60 individual neighborhoods in 10 areas across the city. Having supported Motor City Match since its inception, we noted the mayor’s tally of 141 businesses opened, under construction or coming soon, 80 percent of them minority owned. There was good news from the Avenue of Fashion to Island View, Clark Park to Brush Park and more. There was good news on policies from bringing returning citizens into the workforce to fighting for lower auto insurance rates.

The mayor rightly cited the deep roots of deindustrialization in the post-World War II boom that saw the creation of new auto factories shift decisively outside the city limits. It is a legacy we are still, in many ways, fighting to overcome. And Mayor Duggan reinforced our belief that with verve and commitment, courage and tenacity, we can overcome that legacy indeed