Detroit has been experiencing a building boom. In the last few years, more than a hundred new restaurants have opened in the city, including Gold Cash Gold, opened by passionate locals, and Roast, a creation of famed chef Michael Symon, an Iron Chef on Food Network.
The resurgence in the city’s restaurant business can be partly credited to the phenomenon of a barbecue restaurant named Slows, which opened in 2005 in an all-but-deserted block of Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. The restaurant quickly caught on, and brought throngs of customers nightly, proving the city could attract people and dollars. The neighborhood now is a thriving destination, with restaurants and shops lining both sides of the main drag. Among them is Astro Coffee Shop, opened by young entrepreneurs. It attracts daily crowds with its artistic, urban charm, and a menu that rivals any international city’s hot spot for coffee.
The arrival of Quicken Loans, the largest online mortgage lender in the United States, was one of the most important breaks the city received in decades. Quicken ranks at the top of Detroit employers with 11.524 people working in its Detroit offices. Founder Dan Gilbert has been successfully leading the city’s real estate revival. He has been buying and redeveloping buildings, many of them historic, in the downtown area, and now owns or controls more than 80.
Small businesses, like outdoor apparel retailer Moosejaw, have been steadily opening, and large national chains are beginning to take notice of the upturn in Detroit’s business environment. Whole Foods has a store in the historic Brush Park neighborhood, and it’s been reported that Target has Detroit on its radar.
The Motor City has been helped by the record-breaking auto sales of the last few years. General Motors has its headquarters in the Renaissance Center on the Detroit River, and has been important to the development of the beautiful parks and trails along the Riverfront. Once a desolate area marred by parking lots, the riverfront now brings thousands of daily visitors. In addition, General Motors recently invested $1 billion in its plant on the border of Detroit and Hamtramck, hired 1,200 employees, and added a second shift to meet demand for the five vehicles produced there.
Detroit’s recent successes have come in the best possible way – through the contributions of small business owners who love the city, the commitment and investment of large businesses, and the sheer determination of its residents who never counted the city out.