Report: Confidence in Detroit’s Economic Rebound is High, Still Work to be Done

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The Kresge Foundation based in Troy today released its 2018 Detroit Reinvestment Index, now in its third year. The index measures perceptions of Detroit’s turnaround and previously featured perceptions of national business leaders and Detroit metro-area entrepreneurs. This year’s survey also includes the views of metro-area consumers.

Confidence in Detroit’s economic rebound remains high, with 84 percent of national business leaders saying they are confident Detroit can recover and become a great American city. Of Detroit entrepreneurs, 92 percent agreed, and 94 percent of Detroit residents and 88 percent of suburban residents also reported they were confident. Those who said they were “very confident” increased to 47 percent from 39 percent last year.

Some Detroiters pointed to tangible improvements in the city as proof: “The amount of new construction in the last couple of years. I haven’t seen that my whole life here,” one Detroit resident said for the survey.

Others said Detroit’s perception is also leading to economic rebound: “Whereas the narrative was pretty negative from national media prior to the bankruptcy, since the bankruptcy it’s been more hopeful, at least, if not positive.”

About 88 percent of Detroit entrepreneurs said retail is better in Detroit than it was 10 years ago. About 76 percent of Detroit residents and 82 percent of suburban residents agree.

“I think having retail, especially locally-owned retail, is an economic driver for that neighborhood,” one Detroit resident said for the survey. “They’re owned by Detroiters, so those dollars are circulating within the city as opposed to being extracted to go someplace else.”

For Detroit residents, 51 percent said more funds and resources should be allocated to neighborhood revitalization in order to contribute to the overall growth and well-being of Detroit. The same percentage said funds need to be allocated to safety and security, while 49 percent said funds should go to K-12 schools.

For suburban residents, safety and security was their first concern, with 71 percent wishing to dedicate more funds and resources to the cause. About 54 percent said neighborhood revitalization should receive more funding, while 42 percent said K-12 schools should get additional resources. For this category, participants were asked to rank their top three choices.

About 96 percent of Detroit residents said it is important to have a thriving retail district in or near their neighborhood. For Detroit residents, the top five retail districts were Downtown (51 percent of participants prefer to shop here), 8 Mile and Woodward (44 percent), Eastern Market (41 percent), Livernois and McNichols (21 percent), and Midtown (21 percent). For Suburban residents, the top five included Downtown (52 percent), Eastern Market (43 percent), Midtown (22 percent), Corktown/Michigan Avenue (19 percent), and 8-Mile and Woodward (17 percent). Participants were asked to rank their first three choices

For Detroit residents, the most common challenges are limited/expensive parking (48 percent), the malls outside of the city are better/more convenient (42 percent), and inadequate safety and security (33 percent). For suburban residents, parking was also the most common issue (52 percent), with safety coming in second (50 percent), and better malls outside of the city (46 percent) coming in third. Participants were asked to select all challenges that applied.

About 64 percent of Detroit residents reported they go to the suburbs for department stores, 62 percent for big-box retailers, and 42 percent for electronic stores.

About 62 percent of Detroit residents reported they want to see more department stores, 58 percent want more big-box retailers, 47 percent want sit-down restaurants, 46 percent want more grocery stores and supermarkets, and 44 percent want more bookstores in the city. For suburban residents, 55 percent want to see more grocery stores and supermarkets, 46 percent want to see more department stores, 44 percent want more sit-down restaurants, 44 percent want more big-box retailers, and 37 percent want to see more independent/specialty apparel stores.

The full report can be found here.

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