Sharpening Detroit's Agenda

A historic alignment of civic and economic development groups focused on transforming Detroit into a more modern, attractive, and prosperous city was announced yesterday, according to a front page report in the Detroit News that broke the story.

Few cities in America face the monstrous economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the Motor City. But the group, known as One D, reportedly would target improved education, mass transit, and economic policy. The effort, spearheaded by Edsel Ford, comes as more successful cities across the nation focus intensely on spurring a culture of innovation, revitalizing the urban core, and competing in the global economy.

Detroiters may be skeptical, as they've seen such calls for collaborations in the past bear little fruit. The Detroit News itself optimistically editorialized today that "there's something markedly different" about the current effort. And one expert responded by saying that, in order to be successful, One D must engage the "average residents," according to a followup report in today's paper.

News columnist Daniel Howes, one of the more astute observers of the Motor City's (and Michigan's) economic crisis, says in today's column its time for Detroiters to push aside the cynicism about a united effort in a region where whites and blacks, suburbanites and city dwellers, and Republicans and Democrats are traditionally at odds. Indeed, Howes implies that cooperation is essential to the region's competitiveness.

"What One D is about," United Way President Michael Brennan told Howes, "is finding the common intersection of the public, private and nonprofit sectors. It's taken 50 years to get here and we've got a long road ahead of us. We all realize that a go-it-alone strategy is not a sustainable strategy."