Why all college students should consider living, working, and playing in Detroit after graduation
After college graduation, I watched most of my friends leave Michigan for cities like Boston, Chicago, DC, Portland, and New York. They all left without a job offer; they chose the place to live before they even started their job search. The more I visited them in their cool, urban lifestyles, the more I wanted to leave Michigan. I was always hopeful that Detroit would become a Chicago, but at times, that seemed like an impossible prospect. In 2008, the recession happened and Detroit fell hard.
Then, when all seemed hopeless, Detroit’s engine restarted itself with a powerful roar. Jobs are back and the downtown is transforming right before our eyes. The national recognition for Detroit speaks for itself:
- First for job growth (Newsweek)
- First in growth in technology jobs (Dice.com)!
- Top 10 sustainable cities to watch worldwide (recognized for urban farms, social entrepreneurship)
- #9 on top 10 American Downtowns (TopTenz.net)
- President Obama even noted in his State of the Union in January that “What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries” – pointing to the successful turnaround of the automotive industry.
Physically, Detroit looks different than it did ten or even five years ago – the urban environment that so many young people crave exists right here in Detroit – right now! Many companies like Quicken Loans and Compuware moved downtown and are incentivizing their workers to LIVE downtown. There are noticeably more young people living and working downtown. Dan Gilbert acquired 9 commercial buildings, including the new M@dison building, home to Detroit Venture Partners and its start-up companies. The Bus Rapid Transit plan and the downtown rail transit plan are in the works; the last piece of the puzzle in supporting the vibrant, exciting big city life is finally falling into place.
Social Compact shows drastic underestimated need for commercial real estate development and services in downtown. That pent up demand is evident in the new restaurants and indy retailers are popping up all over; Whole Foods and Meijer are both opening stores downtown! Anyone interested in starting a business should come to Detroit. Entrepreneurial-centric organizations like TechTown, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, D:Hive, Bizdom U, and Challenge Detroit are just examples of some of the resources for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams.
Tour Detroit, Network, Get a Job or Summer Internship, Make a Difference!
Don’t believe what I am sharing? LiveWorkDetroit!, Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s initiative to retain and attract talent in Michigan, is the perfect way for any recent-grad or college student to see Detroit and decide for themselves. Hop on our bus to the next two LiveWorkDetroit! events (March 9th and March 31st) and see for yourself as you tour the city with us and network with hiring employers, industry and community leaders, entrepreneurs, and young professionals who live, work, and love Detroit. And when you fall in love with Detroit, check out UM’s chapter of LiveWorkDetroit! Student Ambassador organization for ways students can make a difference in Detroit right now.
Michelle Elder is an alumni of the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning (B.S. Architecture ’02, MUP/Real Estate Cert ’08). She currently works at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, leading the state of Michigan’s strategy for retaining and attracting college graduates and young professionals.