Tonight's Speaker Series: Registration is Full

Carol Coletta is armed with some data and some tough love numbers for cities like Detroit, with an emphasis on the love part.

"Fifty-eight percent of success of any city is tied to the percentage of college educated people in your population," says Coletta, CEO of CEOs for Cities and host and producer of the nationally syndicated public radio show, Smart City. "It's not always a comfortable fact for a cities, but we have to embrace it," she says.

Coletta will talk about what this means for Detroit, and offer other data that will paint a picture of what Detroit has and lacks in terms of attracting and retaining talented people when she joins us for a talk at the Model D Speaker Series on Monday, Aug. 3, 2009.

The free event will be in the Wendell W. Anderson, Jr. Auditorium in the Walter B. Ford II Building at the College for Creative Studies in Midtown. For a map and directions, click here.

Registration is full. Please check back with us in a couple weeks for info on our September event.

"Here's the trick," she says by phone from her Chicago office. "It's not just enough to development new talent, you have to keep it. That becomes a question of quality of place."

To that end, she says Detroit needs to look seriously at many factors that speak to its quality. Two important ones are also green by nature: walkability and mass transit.

Detroit's moves toward creating transit are good, she says, but the region needs to be comprehensive with its plans. "If you aren't serious about developing a system of public transportation -- not just a line, not a project, but a system -- then I think it's very hard to promote it as an asset," she says.

And, she says, walkabilty is another key factor in making the city more desirable.

"By the time I get to Detroit I hope we can announce the results of a new study that we've taken that will look at the impact of every one point on additional walk score on home values," she says. "Cities have a natural advantage, and we undermine those natural advantages by the way we develop them --- making them sprawl out across the land. One of the messages that we want to bring to cities, and in particular for a city like Detroit, don't undermine your natural advantages."

But what can Detroiters do about the city's image, especially when its own leadership hasn't necessarily been portraying an ethical and upright image.

"Government is a reflection of us, it's not a we and they," Coletta says. "If we have issues with our government then we need to fix it.

"Yes image matters, but I think that the worst thing citizens can do is sit around waiting for Godot and waiting for the perfect mayor and the perfect city council, all the things that we think are the silver bullet and magic that will fix us."

At the Aug. 3 event, Coletta will expand on these and other ideas and observations she has about Detroit. And the audience will have opportunity to ask her questions, too.

The monthly Model D speaker series is sponsored by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Henry Ford Health Systems, Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center.