Four Innovative Ideas for DIA's New CEO

June 12, 2013 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Last week, the Downtown Investment Authority selected Aundra C. Wallace of Detroit's Landbank Authority to serve as its first CEO. Here are four creative revitalization initiatives underway in Detroit that should be packed in his suitcase for the drive down south.

2. 15x15 Initiative

The 15x15 initiative began as a coordinated effort in 2009 by Wayne State University (WSU), Henry Ford Health System, Detroit Medical Center (DMC) and the Hudson Webber Foundation to make the greater downtown Detroit area an attractive place for young professionals.

Like Jacksonville, Detroit was a city that had struggled to establish seamless coordination between public, private sectors and the largest employers in its urban core. Nevertheless, it was believed that the single best predictor of a region’s economic health and prosperity is the proportion of adults with a four-year degree or more.

According to Hudson Webber's website, 1515 is a shared vision to attract 15,000 young, talented households to Greater Downtown Detroit by 2015.  

The group's initial efforts focus on low-hanging fruit, such as coordinating public safety efforts to make the area safer, shuttle services for better transportation, and workforce development to provide jobs for WSU's students at Henry Ford and DMC. There's also a program, known as "Live Midtown" that the companies encourage their employees to live nearby. Long term, they plan to coordinate their property development efforts as well.

Although sometimes referred to as a talent strategy, 1515 is much more a place-based strategy, working in a targeted geography to make it the kind of place young talent wants to be.  By focusing on talent attraction and retention, ultimately issues that are a critical to achieving that end goal arise – housing, jobs and business opportunities, retail and third places, and safety and perceived safety.

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