Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rust Belt Chic Migration

On the heels of Johnny Knoxville discovering Rust Belt Chic Detroit, Aaron Renn (The Urbanophile) has a post about that city's unique position to harness this emerging cultural trend. Via metromode, the urban brand still has the power to attract talent:

Among those Detroit residents attracted to the vibrancy of the city is Matt Clayson, director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center. “My wife and I, we came for the houses, for the sky rises, to be close to the river,” Clayson said, “it’s a great community, it’s tight-knit, and everyone is a little eccentric in their own way.”

Detroit’s unique character and cultural significance offer its residents a place not only to live, but an identity, and an opportunity to be a part of something greater.

“Love it or hate it people know Detroit, it’s got that brand … we’re manufacturing, we’re automobile, we’re music, we’re bold, we’re in your face, we’re a little loud,” said Clayson.

Detroit needn't reinvent itself. The region already has the assets that young professionals desire. What's missing is the courage to market Rust Belt Chic, despite Johnny Knoxville gift wrapping the marketing campaign.

Companies think that Rust Belt Chic can help them sell their products. Why can't the trend help sell your city? My guess is that the people with the power to make the decisions are risk averse. That problem plagues many shrinking cities. I expect more useless carping about brain drain and why we should throw millions of dollars at another initiative designed to keep college graduates from leaving the region. It's the politically expedient thing to do.

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