This time five years ago, there was “Assignment Detroit” and the header read: “It’s a city in crisis but with potential for a big comeback. Despite an ailing auto industry and the highest jobless rate in the nation, Detroiters are determined to make their hometown thrive once again. For the next year, CNNMoney will focus on that challenge.” We all remember when Time Inc. had purchased a home where reporters would publish articles on what they observed. There were many articles about the resiliency of Detroit and the entrepreneurial spirit of the City, and wonderful small business owners who were creating miracles, yet many highlights of blight and the financial crisis of Detroit.
I was even featured in the CNN Money Assignment Detroit as a “fixer” aka a young person who left the corporate world (working at The Palace Sports & Entertainment) to become an entrepreneur launching businesses, rather than fleeing the state like many of my other 20-something counterparts. I, as well as many others that had been featured in this “assignment” received facebook messages and emails from long-lost friends, and strangers from all over the world intrigued by my story and surprising success.
At that point most, if not all, of my friends had moved to New York, DC, and Chicago and I think chawked up me staying as being “comfortable” or crazy. Whereas me, I looked at it as opportunity and necessity. I saw all these great projects I was being asked to work on as opportunity, and the freelance PR/sub-contracting jobs as necessity/stable income. My friends would tell me about their various work projects, parties, dates, grad school case studies, etc. in their fabulous cities (I’d even party like a rockstar when I’d go visit), and I’d have similar stories about my fabulous city…Detroit. During the holidays when everywhere I’d go was a reunion, I’d gladly tell EVERYONE about the new developments, projects, businesses, grants, etc. that were pushing the city forward. We’d have many conversations about how everyone would love to move back “home” when they got married and had kids, but just couldn’t see themselves doing it because of the financial crisis, lack of jobs, and void in cosmopolitan lifestyle opportunities. I couldn’t provide a lot of insight on the economic uprising, but surely would run my friends ragged taking them out, and letting them see how much fun stuff there was to do.
Looking back, I’m now seeing how conversations started to change and now, I have quite a few friends who have moved back and/or are moving back this year. They are purchasing homes, moving their spouses here (from cities like New York), and are really embracing the “spirit of Detroit”. All my rants, emails about the “good news in the D”, and sales pitches were not done in vain! I’m hoping that the upcoming “Detroit Homecoming” event has a similar effect and gets a few more expats to move back. So, if you’re like me, keep it up…there’s no place like home! Hopefully, you’ll spark similar synergy and get your friends, family, former co-workers, etc. to move back.