The Story of Detroit Added Some Significant Chapters in 2010; Here Are 10 of Them

12/23/10

When Xconomy Detroit launched in April 2010, I wrote that this city is a verb, in a constant state of action, of “becoming,” of striving for something greater. Having lived in Michigan for much of my life, I can say that this was true even in good times, and certainly even more so in bad.

I think we launched Xconomy Detroit at just the right time, because this year has been one filled with stirrings toward another period of great change. It might still be fashionable to bash Michigan if you do not live here, but those who stayed can really feel something new beginning. It is not only Midwestern stoicism at work, but something more concrete.

I’ve written about Michigan for Xconomy and other publications for decades now and can feel that 2010 marked the beginning of something brand new. Here are what I believe are the Top 10 reasons for optimism this year.

Batteries

Jennifer Granholm, Michigan’s outgoing governor, deserves a great deal of credit for working toward her vision of the state as a center for battery innovation and manufacturing. Batteries will not replace the jobs lost in the automotive industry as a whole, but she recognized early on that Michigan has the engineering know-how and manufacturing infrastructure to attract and retain companies developing and making the lithium-ion batteries that will be crucial to Auto Industry 2.0.

In 2010, her proselytizing — and creation of tax incentives — seemed to pay off, with A123 Systems, Compact Power, Johnson Controls, Dow Chemical, and TSC Michigan all either opening or announcing new lithium-ion battery plants in Michigan. Also, ALTe, developer of electric propulsion systems, opened a new plant in Auburn Hills, MI, and longer-range battery developer Sakti3, based in Ann Arbor, waiting in the wings while attracting venture capital funds

Michigan has competition from surrounding states in battery manufacturing, but Granholm’s efforts made sure that the Great Lakes State will remain an important player. Now, of course, consumers will have to actually start buying those electric cars.

Venture Capital

Michigan entered 2010 with some pretty dismal VC numbers, in terms of numbers of firms and dollars invested, even during a dismal time for venture capital in general. The only good thing that was … Next Page »

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  • http://www.bankofannarbor.com Michael Cole

    My #1 Michigan story in 2010 was Detroit’s popular opinion victory. In 2010, for the first time in my adult life, popular opinion in Michigan tipped in favor of saving Detroit. Thank you Xconomy, for becoming part of the solution with the launch of Xconomy Detroit.

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/hlovy/ Howard Lovy

    Thank you, Michael. We’re trying! There are still many who consider Detroit to be a burned-out hulk, but it is based on outdated information. It’d be tempting to focus purely on Ann Arbor for news about entrepreneurship, but I’ll keep reporting on the cause for optimism in Detroit.