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Economy of metropolitan Detroit facts for kids

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The metropolitan area surrounding and including Detroit, Michigan, is a ten-county area with a population of over 5.9 million, a workforce of 2.6 million, and about 347,000 businesses. Detroit's six-county Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of about 4.3 million, a workforce of about 2.1 million, and a gross metropolitan product of $200.9 billion. Detroit's urban area has a population of 3.9 million. A 2005 PricewaterhouseCoopers study estimated that Detroit's urban area had a gross domestic product of $203 billion.

About 180,500 people work in downtown Detroit, comprising one-fifth of the city's employment base. Metro Detroit has propelled Michigan's national ranking in emerging technology fields such as life sciences, information technology, and advanced manufacturing; Michigan ranks fourth in the U.S. in high tech employment with 568,000 high tech workers, which includes 70,000 in the automotive industry. Michigan typically ranks third or fourth in overall research and development expenditures in the United States. Metro Detroit is the second-largest source of architectural and engineering job opportunities in the U.S. Detroit is known as the automobile capital of the world, with the domestic auto industry primarily headquartered in Metro Detroit. As of 2003, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers claimed that new vehicle production, sales, and jobs related to automobile use account for one of every ten jobs in the United States.

In April 2008, metropolitan Detroit's unemployment rate was 6.9 percent; in November 2012, it was 7.9 percent. Economic issues include the city of Detroit's unemployment rate at 15.8 percent in April 2012. The suburbs typically have low unemployment. The metropolitan economy began an economic recovery in 2010.

Information technology

Metro Detroit accounts for the State's national ranking in emerging technology fields such as life sciences, information technology, and advanced manufacturing; Metro Detroit's technology sector is fifth in the U.S. for total employment and fourth in the percent of employment concentrated within the sector. In 2010, the Detroit area became the fastest growing region in the U.S. for high technology jobs. Downtown Detroit maintains a wireless Internet zone and has seen an influx of information technology jobs. A report by the Silicon Valley based TechNet group found Michigan to be the leading state for stimulating demand for broadband, positioning it during the early 2000s. The Michigan Information Technology Center provides education, support services, and conferencing facilities for the region's information technology companies. The metro area is home to high tech business incubators such as the Michigan Security Network, a consortium which coordinates business growth of cybersecurity, biodefense, and border security sectors.

Some of the metro area's information technology and software companies with a major presence or headquarters include Compuware, HP Enterprise Services, IBM, Google, General Electric, Unisys, Fiserv, Covansys, and ProQuest. HP Enterprise Services makes Metro Detroit its regional headquarters and one of its largest global employment locations. On June 26, 2009, General Electric announced that it will create software at a new advanced manufacturing and technology center in Van Buren Township. Comcast and Verizon maintain a large presence in the area. OnStar, based in the Renaissance Center is also a source of growth. Chrysler's largest corporate facility is its U.S. headquarters and technology center in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills. VisionIT and Kelly IT Resources are other large employers headquartered in the metro area filling a wide range of needs. Five of the world's twenty largest employers began in Metro Detroit.

On June 30, 2015, Quicken Loans announced the opening of its new state-of-the-art, 66,000-square-foot Technical Center in Corktown. The new facility will feature two 10,000-square-foot server rooms in addition to training, office, meeting, and technical support space. Half of the data center including one server room will be occupied by the Quicken Loans’ technology team. An equal-sized 33,000 square foot portion of the building, including the second 10,000 square-foot server room, is available for lease.


Chrysler Headquarters Auburn Hills 20060624
Chrysler Headquarters and Technology Center in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills.

The Greater Detroit Foreign Trade Zone (GDFTZ) was created in 1981 through the U.S. Department of Commerce to allow for the reduction of taxes across borders and to attract, retain and facilitate international trade In 2011, Metro Detroit ranked as the fourth largest export market in the United States. Infrastructure is an important component in the metro area economy. Detroit has an extensive toll-free expressway system which, together with its status as a major port city, provide advantages to its location as a global business center. There are no toll roads in Michigan.

Metro Detroit is the U.S.A.'s number one exporting region and busiest commercial port. Detroit is at the center of the Great Lakes Megalopolis. The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest commercial border crossing in North America, carrying 27 percent of the total trade between the U.S. and Canada. More than fifteen million people and ten million vehicles cross the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel annually. A 2004 Border Transportation Partnership study showed that 150,000 jobs in the Detroit-Windsor region and $13 billion in annual production depend on Detroit's international border crossing. The Detroit River International Crossing project calls for a second bridge to be built across the Detroit River to facilitate increased trade and ease of travel.

Many people commute across the Detroit-Windsor International border daily. Professions identified in the Canada - United States Free Trade Agreement which began in 1988 are permitted TN Visas for legal work in the United States and Canada, creating freedom of labor movement. TN status is recognized in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which began in 1994. As an example, a large number of nurses in Detroit hospitals also live in Windsor. The 710-mile (1,140 km) Quebec City–Windsor Corridor contains over 18 million people, with 51 percent of the Canadian population and three out of the four largest metropolitan areas in Canada, according to the 2001 Census. Headquartered in Detroit, the international law firm of Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone P.L.C., is one of the largest in the United States. Metro area business leaders belong to the Detroit Economic Club, headquartered at 211 West Fort Street. The U.S dollar is readily accepted as currency in Windsor.


Ambassador Bridge and a fragment of Windsor
The Ambassador Bridge, a suspension bridge that connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario, in Canada. It is the busiest international border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume.

Metro Detroit offers a comprehensive system of transit services for the central city and region. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) administers the advanced network of freeways in metropolitan Detroit and Michigan. The region offers mass transit with bus services provided jointly by the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) through a cooperative service and fare agreement. Cross border service between the downtown areas of Windsor and Detroit is provided by Transit Windsor via the Tunnel Bus. A monorail system, known as the People Mover, operates daily through a 2.9 mile (4.6 km) loop in the downtown area. Amtrak provides service to Detroit, operating its Wolverine service between Chicago, Illinois, and Pontiac. Greyhound Bus provides nationwide service to Detroit with its station on Howard Street near Michigan Avenue. A proposed SEMCOG Commuter Rail service could link Ann Arbor, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Ypsilanti, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, and Detroit's New Center Amtrak station.

DTW McNamara Terminal from the air
Aerial of Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), one of the largest air traffic hubs in the US

As a major U.S. port, Detroit is an important center for transportation & logistics employment including its aviation, rail, truck, and ship docking facilities. Detroit maintains a cruise ship dock and passenger terminal on Hart Plaza adjacent to the Renaissance Center. Commercial vessels dock at Michigan's 38 deep water ports which provide access to the Great Lakes Waterway and the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) is one of America's largest and most recently modernized facilities, with six major runways, Boeing 747 maintenance facilities, and an attached Westin Hotel and Conference Center. Located in nearby Romulus, DTW is metro Detroit's principal airport and is a hub for Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines. Bishop International Airport in Flint and Toledo Express Airport in Toledo, Ohio, are other commercial passenger airports. Coleman A. Young International Airport (DET), commonly called Detroit City Airport, is on Detroit's northeast side, and offers charter service. Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti is for commercial aviation. One economic development strategy proposed is an Aerotropolis, a concept utilizing Detroit Metropolitan Airport as a central business district. Detroit Renaissance, now known as Business Leaders for Michigan, announced an eleven-point strategy to transform the region's economy which includes development of the Aerotropolis.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $244 M in grants for high-speed rail upgrades between Chicago and Detroit. A consortium of investors including the Canadian Pacific Railway has proposed a new larger rail tunnel to accommodate large double stacked freight cars under the Detroit River which could open in 2015. With the new tunnel potentially emerging near the Michigan Central Station, a redeveloped station could play a role as a trade inspection facility.


Tourism in metropolitan Detroit is an important economic factor, comprising nine percent of the area's two million jobs. About 15.9 million people visit the area annually spending an estimated $4.8 B. Besides casino gaming, the region's leading attraction is The Henry Ford, America's largest indoor-outdoor museum complex. The Detroit International Riverfront links the Renaissance Center to a series of venues, parks, restaurants, and hotels by a riverfront walkway.

The region hosts large multi-day events with crowds of hundreds of thousands to over three million people for annual events such as the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival, the North American International Auto Show, and the Motown Winter Blast on Campus Martius Park. The city's Midtown and New Center areas anchored by Wayne State University attract millions of visitors each year to its museums and cultural centers; for example, the Detroit Festival of the Arts in Midtown draws about 350,000 people. Mall developers consider the metro area's Somerset Collection to be among the nation's top privately held mall properties with 2004 gross annual sales of about $600 M and sales per square foot at $620 compared to the national average of $341.

The area has hosted several major sporting events such as Super Bowl XL; in fact, Detroit is the only northern city to have hosted two Super Bowls. Ford Field hosted the 2009 NCAA Final Four; in April 2007 it hosted WrestleMania 23. Major League Baseball's 2005 All-Star Game was held at Comerica Park, as were 2006 World Series games due to the Detroit Tigers success. Metro Detroit is one of thirteen U.S. cities with teams from four major sports.

The area's 24,000-acre (97 km2) network of Huron-Clinton Metroparks receives about nine million visitors annually. About 5.9 million people live in the Windsor-Detroit region, making it one of the largest metropolitan areas in North America. An estimated 46 million people live within a 300-mile (480 km) radius of Metro Detroit. Thus, the metro area has many opportunities for growth in tourism with great potential for development and expansion. The region's abundance of natural lakes and coastal landscape present investment potential for beachfront resorts and luxury high rise condominiums. In addition, there is the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge which is the only international wildlife preserve in North America, uniquely located in the heart of a major metropolitan area. The refuge includes islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands along 48 miles (77 km) of the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie shoreline.

The city of Detroit functions as an entertainment hub for the entire region, as casino resorts, major sports venues, and theatre district increase development prospects for new retail. Detroit is the largest American city and metropolitan region to offer casino resort hotels. The MGM Grand Detroit (2007), Motor City Casino (2008), Caesars Windsor (2007), and Greektown Casino (2008) comprise the regions four major casino resorts.

Movie studios in metro area help to establish the state as a legitimate contender in the 12-month-a-year film business. Motown Motion Picture Studios (2009) with 535,000 square feet (49,700 m2) will produce movies at the Pontiac Centerpoint Business Campus for a film industry expected to employ over 4,000 people in the metro area.


See also: List of shopping malls in Michigan
SomersetCollectionNorth's gazebo
Somerset Collection mall in the Detroit suburb of Troy.

Metro Detroit has many chain retailers and super regional shopping malls, in both upscale and outlet style venues, which, in addition to the "land" malls of Southland Center in Taylor, Eastland Center in Harper Woods, and Westland Center in Westland (Southfield's Northland Center closed in 2015), are located throughout other suburban municipalities such as Troy, Novi, Auburn Hills, Sterling Heights, and Dearborn. In the 2000s, some older malls closed, while some inner-ring suburban malls have been remodeled. Others have a new role with "big box" establishments. During the same decade, upscale lifestyle centers appeared in Detroit suburbs, most nobably The Mall at Partridge Creek in Clinton Township. Several suburban municipalities, including Birmingham, Royal Oak, Rochester, and Grosse Pointe, contain their own street-side shopping districts.

Many local merchants and restaurants are located within the Detroit city-limits including Lower Woodward Avenue Historic District, Greektown Historic District, the Renaissance Center, and those in the Eastern Market Historic District; however, the city of Detroit has few big chain retailers. A 2007 Selzer and Co. poll found that nearly two-thirds of suburban residents said they occasionally dine and attend cultural or professional sporting events in downtown Detroit. The Fairlane Town Center, a super-regional shopping mall in Dearborn, is about 15-minutes from downtown Detroit.

A 2007 Social Compact report showed that city of Detroit residents spend about $1.7 B annually in the suburbs for retail goods and services. As of 2009, "big box" super-centers had yet to open stores within the city limits of Detroit. In August 2009, the Meijer chain of super-centers announced it would open its first store within the city limits at the $90M Gateway Marketplace. In April 2009, developers announced they had leased 60 percent of the retail space for a planned $90 M open-air mall, the Gateway Marketplace, to be located within the city-limits of Detroit. Gateway Marketplace opened in June 2013. Meijer then opened another store in the Old Redford section of the northwest side in 2015.

The city of Detroit has four Starbucks coffee shops and several Tim Hortons coffee shops as well as a single Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins combo outlet, all of which face Michigan based competitors Coffee Beanery and Biggby Coffee. The city's major bookstore is Wayne State University Bookstore, leaving an opening for a major book store chain. New car dealerships have migrated to the suburbs. The decline of chain fast-food outlets within Detroit has closely paralleled that of the city itself, including a notable decline of locations of Yum! Brands-owned restaurants within the city limits to the point that Taco Bell is down to one location on the city's west side in 2015.

Supermarkets and grocery stores

As of 2009, German based supermarket chain Aldi, which opened Detroit locations in 2001 and 2005, and the Michigan-based Spartan Stores were the grocery chains operating within the city of Detroit. In 2011, Whole Foods Market announced a new Midtown location in the city of Detroit. This location opened in June 2013 to much fanfare. Many independent grocery stores serve neighborhoods in Detroit; however, a 2009 University of Michigan report estimated that neighborhoods within the city-limits of Detroit have sufficient income to sustain from $210 M to $377 M in additional grocery retail spending which has leaked to nearby suburbs and that the city could support up to 1,000,000 square feet (92,900 m2) of additional retail grocery space. The report noted that retail grocery traffic tends to stimulate growth of other types of retail and that large retail chains have been slow to realize the growth potential for the city.

As of 2011, according to Martin Manna, the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce's executive director, 75 of the 84 supermarkets in the Detroit city limits are owned by Chaldean Americans. Metro Foodland in the city is an African American owned business; it is the final remaining black-owned supermarket in Detroit, a majority black city. The owner, James Hooks, said that there always have been few black-owned grocery stores in Detroit. Former employees of Hooks had established two other black-owned stores, and both stores closed. Southwest Detroit has many independent grocery stores. In particular Southwest Detroit has several Hispanic supermarkets, or supermercados, that stock meat, specialty produce, and tortillas.

Historic highlights

Willow Run Factory
B-24s under construction at Ford's Willow Run line.

President Franklin Roosevelt referred to America as the "Arsenal of Democracy". Detroit and its automotive industries played a pivotal role in the Allied victory during World War II. With Europe under siege, Henry Ford's genius would be turned to mass production for the war effort. Specifically, the B-24 Liberator bomber, still the most produced allied heavy bomber in history, quickly shifted the balance of power. The aviation industry could produce, if everything went all right, one Consolidated Aircraft B-24 Bomber a day at an aircraft plant. Ford would show the world how to produce one B-24 an hour, and at peak production Ford produced 650 per month at Willow Run by 1944. Ford's Willow Run factory broke ground in the April 1941. At the time, it was the largest assembly plant in the world, with over 3,500,000 square feet (330,000 m2). Edsel Ford, Henry Ford's son, under stress, died in the Spring of 1943 of stomach cancer prompting Henry Ford to resume day-to-day control of the Ford Motor Company. Willow Run completed its first B-24 in October 1942, with production increasing substantially by August 1943. Pilots and crew slept on the 1,300 cots waiting to fly the B-24s as they rolled off the assembly line at Ford's Willow Run facility.

Higher education and research

See also: Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems, University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, United States Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, University Research Corridor, and Center for Automotive Research
Lawyers Club
The Lawyers Club at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Metro Detroit has diversified its economic base though initiatives in emerging technologies. Michigan typically ranks third or fourth in overall Research & development (R&D) expenditures in the United States. In 2011, Detroit received the first U.S. Patent and Trademark Office outside the Washington, D.C. area. Metro area universities provide a source of top talent for the region. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is one of the world's leading research institutions and is among the highly ranked institutions in the U.S. The University of Michigan schools of engineering, medicine, business, and law are consistently among the top-ranked in the United States. In 2002, the state constructed the NextEnergy Center just north of Wayne State University to focus on fuel cell development and alternative energy.

The area is home to many post-secondary institutions of higher learning and research, including: Baker College, Carnegie Institute, Cleary University, Cranbrook Educational Community, Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Technological University, Oakland University, Thomas M Cooley Law School-Rochester, Walsh College, Rochester College, Madonna University, Marygrove College, University of Detroit Mercy, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University.

On the Canadian side of the border, Windsor's two post-secondary institutions have partnered with auto makers to open high tech research and training facilities. The University of Windsor is home to the University of Windsor/DaimlerChrysler Canada Automotive Research and Development Centre. St. Clair College has the Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing.

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