Last week during the Annual Meeting of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau at the beautiful, historic Fillmore Theatre, both Governor Rick Snyder and Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans spoke glowingly of the positive vibes emanating out of Detroit.
While much of the past 50 years has covered the decline and despair of the metropolitan Detroit area, these two individuals are catalysts for change and are working hard to bring back opportunity for people wishing to live, work and play in Detroit and the metropolitan region as a whole.
Governor Snyder spoke first about changing the thoughts and conversations people have when discussing our city, region and state. Much of his talk centered on needing help from all to get a positive, forward looking attitude and taking that fire, passion and relentless drive to move Michigan forward. The Governor is continuing the message about his administrations’ efforts to embody relentless positive action and that is where his agenda to move Michigan forward is grounded. Mr. Snyder spoke about his accomplishments during the first year while also laying out his agenda to the people of the Great Lake State. He further indicated that 2012 will be the year of implementing the vision set out in 2011 and a year of action for his administration.
One of the key points of the Governor’s speech was to help create legislation that he hopes will pass to create a regional transit authority. Poor mass transit has been the Achilles heel of this region for far too long and the Governor is cognizant of this fact. He also indicated a second bridge over the Detroit River will help grow our economy, increase trade with Ontario and be a catalyst for more tourism in our state. Several minutes were also devoted to the success of the Pure Michigan Brand and taking that idea to the business community for further success in attracting business to Michigan.
Governor Snyder noted how so many things are special about Detroit, including the stellar international auto show having just finished at Cobo Hall, the upcoming DIA Rembrandt Exhibit and excitement across the state created by well performing professional sports teams. The Governor’s message acknowledged the difficulties of the economic situation in Detroit but promised to get behind and support any financial plan in which the city council and mayor put forth together that begins to address the city’s economic issues.
The Governor ended his discussions by taking several questions and challenging all Michiganders to speak loud and proud about all our state has to offer.
Not to be outdone, Dan Gilbert, CEO of Quicken Loans and many other companies, were irreverent about receiving over 15,000 tweets following a mysterious picture sent out by his cell phone the night before showing an empty roll of toilet paper. Those darn kids!
On a more serious note, Dan spoke about his efforts to help reinvent Detroit and make it a vibrant, hip, wannabe place for the Generation X and Y crowd. He spoke about these efforts through the purchase of several buildings along the Woodward corridor and renaming it “Webward” for the smart, motivated, young entrepreneurs he’s attracting to make Detroit their home by creating a cool, urban and happening community.
Mr. Gilbert also addressed turning the “Brain Drain” of our youth moving away for greater urban experiences into a “Brain Gain.” He explained his goal to create an environment where any entrepreneur can come to Detroit with a dream of making it big while also making a difference in our city and the region. He expounded on that thought with his creation of Bizdom U (incubator) and using the recently purchased and renovated Madison Building as a creative hub for start-up companies in their early development.
Finally, Dan Gilbert talked about a future announcement of additional apartments on the old Hudson building site and the hope of more announcements of national retailers coming back to the city of Detroit. Mr. Gilbert gave away his Quicken Loans “Isms” book and spoke about one of his most treasured isms in the book: “Obsessed with finding a better way.” That one sentence describes Dan Gilbert well and is why he is doing well by doing good.