The bankruptcy of Detroit was announced in the media with stock word play: Motor City is out Gas… Motor City has stalled…
In fact these days, US car companies have only a token stake in the once mighty urban industrial center. Manufacturing employment in Detroit proper fell by more than 90 percent from 1950 to 2011 leaving a scant 10,000 auto industry jobs in the city. With the exception of General Motors Headquarters in the waterfront Renaissance Center and bail-out mandated manufacturing of the Chevy Volt, and a Chrysler plant cranking out Jeeps, the car companies have long since left Detroit for suburban areas — and increasingly to the new auto industrial belt of the mid-South.
Beyond tradition, what binds Detroit to the auto industry is the shared experience of management and financial chaos and the potential for meaningful renewal. And while General Motors and Chrysler had the helping hand of the government bailout, and Detroit does not, the painful process of bankruptcy will highlight the excesses of the past and set a smarter path for the future.
And Detroit still offers promise — with arts, technology and manufacturing ventures burgeoning amid the wreckage.