The Los Angeles Auto Show is a somewhat quiet affair for the Detroit Three. But the auto show that is in the city where General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all covet better sales, is not without news and a few meaningful curtain raisers.
The question for Marchionne, and those possibly teed up to buy the shares of the storied automaker is this: Is Chrysler a "buy"?
As Detroit has made a game of comparing ourselves to other cities, we've too often overlooked what makes us special and unique on our own terms. Park Avenue is a good example.
Is Detroit a basket case? Indeed, many of us who work and live in the Detroit metropolitan area are becoming thoroughly annoyed with the tears of the media. It seems as if many Americans are using us to deflect other unsolved problems by implying that "we are not as bad as Detroit."
As the federal government shutdown grips the nation, many people in local communities feel disgusted and powerless to change what's happening. But we needn't despair. Here are three basic steps individuals and groups in communities can take immediately to combat head-on the ill effects of the shutdown.
Do you think the damage from the pending bankruptcy of the city of Detroit will be limited to Detroit? Think again. Detroit is partly the victim of economic trends far beyond its control, the downsizing and outsourcing of the auto industry and the collapse of the sub-prime bubble, to name just two. And yes, the city has suffered from corrupt and inept local government. But leaving Detroit to a bankruptcy process that favors investment bankers over local pensioners will neither provide a fair outcome nor contain the damage. It is a travesty that the federal government and the Michigan state government are not sending Detroit a lifeline. Other cities and states stand to lose both public services and pension benefits as this trend spreads. Chicago, which just suffered three levels of bond-downgrading, looks to be next.
It is also unthinkable to leave out the birth of the automotive industry. Both my father and my husband's dad began their careers working for the greats of General Motors. I was almost 17 before I knew that people drove cars made in foreign countries.
A community is made up of much more than just dollars and cents. Don't get me wrong: Detroit must make hard financial decisions. There's no way to hide from them or put them off any longer. But don't sell the soul of the community in the process.
It's easy to blame Detroit's problems on corruption, unions and overly generous pension benefits, but none of which were the primary cause of bankruptcy. Detroit may have mismanaged finances, but the state's cuts to revenue sharing doomed the city.
The Windy City is likely the next shoe to fall. Above all, elected officials around the country must take this lesson from Detroit: Do not spend money you do not have because one day, the bills will come due.
Joe Louis may be a hulking, windowless, concrete monstrosity of an arena, but it doubled as the best playground in the world for two young kids.
Most say Detroit is done for, finished. But I just can't reconcile that attitude with what I think is plain to see: Detroit is the best investment opportunity since some numbskull bought Alaska for $7 million.
Note the grand ambitions here: A little consulting firm will address homelessness or truancy "for as long as it takes to make your problem our own" (shouldn't homelessness already be "our" problem?).
We need to intrigue others to want to check us out and maybe stay a while. We need bike shops, coffeehouses, specialty stores and retail. We really need a dense retail district.
Over the past few decades, Grand Rapids has seen an exciting boom of sorts. While the magnitude of a Detroit turnaround will require much more, I believe the Motor City can learn a thing or two from our neighbor city in West Michigan as it continues to capitalize on recent successes.
Detroit was made and unmade by the very same forces. The prominence of the automobile encouraged suburban sprawl and discouraged mass transit. Industrialization begat deindustrialization. Cities, like people, are born. They grow up. And they die.