I owe an apology to the Motor City. Until now, I had never been to Detroit and my preconceived notions were based solely on the city’s not-so-glorious recent past: a shrinking population, urban blight, staggering unemployment and even bankruptcy. But what I saw earlier this month – clean, wide streets, historic buildings being redeveloped as new office and residential spaces, food trucks serving lunch to hungry office workers at a downtown park – defied the stereotypes. And local business leaders only confirmed that the Big D is on its way to being a future-ready city.
Dell customer Rocket Fiber– part of the Quicken Loans family of companies, which is also headquartered in Detroit – is on a mission to change the course of this once-powerful city. When other telecommunications companies declined to invest there, Rocket Fiber was formed to fill the void and bring much-needed high-speed internet to the revitalized downtown business district and midtown residents. After all, the FCC has noted that Detroit has one of the lowest rates of internet access among major American cities.
“We saw what Google Fiber was doing for Kansas City, and we knew that we needed that kind of infrastructure in Detroit if we wanted to become a tech hub and attract other innovative businesses,” said Rocket Fiber CEO Marc Hudson.
Hudson kicked off a May 12 Future Ready Detroit panel discussion that included Paolo Vallotti, CISO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and CTO of FCA U.S.; Randy Foster, CTO and co-founder of Rocket Fiber; Justin Northcutt, director of North America Commercial Marketing at Dell; Brett Hansen, executive director of Data Security Solutions at Dell; and moderator John Dietrich, executive director of Corporate Messaging and Thought Leadership at Dell.
The group touched on everything from the importance of education at all levels to the need for open source platforms, the benefits of a diverse workforce and how cybersecurity is one of the biggest threats to innovation. Interestingly, the same topics came up at a similar panel discussion recently in Seattle.
Others are also taking note of Detroit’s progress. In a Glassdoor ranking released last week, Detroit was listed twelfth among the top 25 cities for jobs in the U.S. And it had the lowest cost of living among all of the cities listed.
While Detroit may not be on the list of 50 cities around the world that are the most “future ready” according to Dell’s Future-Ready Economies model, it definitely has all of the pieces and players in place and is ready to rise to the challenge. You can visit here to learn more about Dell’s Future-Ready Economies model and to read more about the world’s future-ready cities. For more about the renaissance of Detroit, visit OpportunityDetroit.com.