2015 Detroit Regional Chamber Report: Metro Detroit Resurgence Slows


While metro Detroit’s economic growth rates led the nation following the Great Recession, they have begun to return to levels comparable to the current national averages, according to the second annual State of the Region report released today by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“The Detroit region has roared back since 2009, leading our peers and outpacing the nation in so many key economic categories, from GDP to income and job growth,” says Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “However, that momentum is starting to slow and we need to prepare as a region for what comes next. There’s a lot to celebrate, but given the region’s long-term deficit of economic growth, normal levels are not enough.”

Baruah says between 2009 and 2014, Detroit’s gross domestic product outpaced the national average by nearly 8 percent. Private sector job growth has outpaced the national average by more than 4 percent since 2009. He says the region’ industrial vacancy rates have declined by nearly 7 percent since 2010 and are now on par with the national average.

The report also finds metro Detroit led its peer regions in median home value growth at more than 13 percent between 2013 and 2014. Additionally, nearly 110 foreign-held companies announced investment of nearly $4 billion in Michigan facilities last year, creating nearly 15,000 jobs.

Baruah says the report addresses challenges that may be cause for concern, including the fact that Chicago surpassed metro Detroit as the No. 1 exporter to Canada in 2014. He says the report also finds a significant deficit in education attainment as the percentage of population 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in southeastern Michigan continues to lag behind all peer regions. Year over year data shows a slowing of income growth compared to peers and the national rate.

In conjunction with the release of the report, the chamber announced a new strategy called Forward Detroit, which focuses on five pillars — business, talent, people, community, and global connectivity. The chamber will seek funding from the business and philanthropic communities, with a goal to raise $20 million by the end of 2021.

“The domestic automotive industry is surging and the Detroit bankruptcy is in the rearview mirror,” Baruah says. “Capitalizing on this unique moment in time and sustaining our momentum requires a regionally focused strategy that transcends politics. Forward Detroit is critical as the public sector is cutting funding for many of the priorities we need to grow the economy.”