Corporate real estate magazine: Detroit was once a joke, but 'no one is laughing anymore'

Posted on July 16, 2013

DETROIT, MI — Corporate real estate magazine Site Selection has taken notice of Detroit’s business growth in recent months.

A feature in its July issue that credits Gov. Rick Snyder with “giving Michigan’s business climate an extreme makeover” turned out to be a paid “investment profile” that cost the Michigan Economic Development Corp. $22,800.

But back in May, the magazine named the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine among the nation’s 12 top-performing economic development organizations.

And county officials say that wasn’t a paid listing.

“Site Selection chose Wayne County on the merits of our economic development successes,” said Kevin Byrnes, a spokesman for Wayne County executive’s office. “No ads were purchased..”

The article named Wayne County Edge alongside the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and nine other economic groups identified as the “best magnets for jobs and capital investment in the U.S. last year.”

“If Detroit was dragging down the rest of Michigan a few years ago, it is now leading its recovery,” the article asserted, citing 10,582 new jobs and $2.2 billion in capital investment in 2012.

The county has faced financial struggles, staff reductions and federal investigations in recent years, but officials said they’re still managing to gather enough resources to lure major investments to the Detroit area.

“We have a number of tools at our disposal to help business leaders when it comes to deciding on Wayne County,” said EDGE Director Ray Byers. “In one instance, our site development assistance, global connectivity and strong incentive package helped GE choose Wayne County for its Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Software Center.”

In both the July article and the earlier May piece, Site Selection describes Detroit as a city that no longer belongs at the butt end of jokes on late-night TV:

“By now, every late-night comedian in America has taken his or her best shot at Detroit. They might want to find new material, as those jokes now appear to be as obsolete as a 1970 AMC Gremlin…

“In other words, no one is laughing anymore.”