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Misery’s Good Company

No one will argue with you if you say New York is a world-class city. Pretty much the same is true for Chicago. So I’m usually pretty happy when Detroit is mentioned on the same list as those two places. Come to think of it, I did laugh when I heard that Forbes magazine had decided that Detroit, New York and Chicago were among the “most miserable cities” in America. I’m not going to argue with all the numbers that were part of the formula Forbes used, but the editors there are pretty presumptuous to tell me that I’m miserable because we have winter in Michigan. Yes, latitude was one of the factors that put Detroit, Chicago and New York on the list. Apparently Forbes missed the thousands of smiling families in downtown for this month’s Winter Blast.

Grabbing at another straw, Forbes magazine chose the number of Superfund dollars allocated to Detroit as another measure of misery. I see that as a measure of our success in redeveloping former brownfield sites, on which we lead other communities in Michigan.  In a few years one of Detroit’s most famous former industrial sites will be completely reclaimed and redeveloped as a signature riverfront residential development. Tell me that Los Angeles will be free of smog in the same period. I don’t think so.

Finally, Forbes decided that long commuting times were another measure of misery. I won’t dispute that, but I’d like to remind us all that commute times are usually a matter of choice. For the thousands of people who have moved into downtown and other rebuilding neighborhoods around the city, Detroit is a place where you can live, work and play – often within a few short blocks. I’m sure they are glad about that.

So watch out as Detroit keeps “miserable” New York and Chicago company and continue on our journey to becoming a world class city.


Jackson is president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, a non-profit organization that works with businesses, government and other organizations throughout Detroit to encourage and manage economic development projects.
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