Nov 24, 2008 | Post by: Vikki Pachera Comments Off on The Upside Down that is Detroit

The Upside Down that is Detroit

It’s a ditch that is so deep, it’s really mind boggling how we are going to get out.  The ditch I’m referring to is Detroit.

Though I’ve long since moved away to pursue a career in high tech, I have an affinity for the area that is rooted in a respect and awe that goes back to my childhood.  The Ford plant in our home town was one of the biggest buildings I had ever seen and all those employee cars in the parking lot–wow, it seemed like they employed everyone.

Today, Detroit is upside down.  The mobility of the workforce is overly constrained by their sheer economic ability to move.

Putting the enormous issue of the economics of the Big 3 aside,  I suppose it’s feasible that the manufacturers retool themselves and create jobs.  It just seems far fetched that suddenly the big three will be inspired and will be able to create compelling products.  Compelling is more than electric or flex, compelling is well built, well designed.  Let’s face it, Detroit lacks a Steve Jobs, or in car talk, a Chris Bangle.

Assuming there will be continued job cuts, where will the replacement jobs come from?  Ganholm is trying hard to provide incentives–Michigan has attracted Google to nearby Ann Arbor, home of U of M (estimated total jobs creation–2K), and low cost film production among other nascent industries.  Some people will be willing and able to retool their skills.

Over time, the robots and assembly lines could be converted to produce silicon used in solar panels and the like but anyone who’s been in manufacturing knows that retooling there isn’t going to be easy, quick or cheap.

I’m all for rebuilding our roads, bridges and infrastructure.  But the chances are, that work is not going to be in your backyard.

There are jobs–even in this economy–but they often require relocation.

When you are upside down in your mortgage–owing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the home is worth, it’s gut wrenching, if not impossible, for most people to consider a move to a new area.  The local workforce needs to be mobile, at least until we bridge from one industry to another, to land opportunities.

Getting the mortgage mess cleaned up is still at the core of our problems and core to filling those 2.5 million jobs that the new administration wants to create.

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