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Posted on Sun, May 29, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

A vibrant Detroit would make it easier for Ann Arbor companies to attract talented young professionals

By Nathan Bomey

A healthy Detroit would have direct benefits for Ann Arbor area companies, especially technology firms that are battling competitors in Silicon Valley, Chicago and Boston to attract the best possible talent.


Barracuda Networks, which employs about 100 workers at its Ann Arbor office, is an example of a tech company seeking to attract young professionals, who typically want to live in a region anchored by a vibrant, major metropolitan city.

Melanie Maxwell |

Ann Arbor has role to play in Detroit's revitalization

There are many reasons to come to work for an Ann Arbor company. It’s a great place to raise a family. It boasts a vibrant downtown with great restaurants and cool places to hang out. It’s a safe place to live, housing is affordable and traffic is a breeze compared to most major cities.

But Ann Arbor is not a major metropolitan city — and, like it or not, many young professionals want to live in an area where they have access to a vibrant, major urban environment.

That’s why Chicago attracts 11 percent of Michigan’s top college graduates. It’s a cool place to live.

“This isn’t going to be popular, but Ann Arbor is kind of a suburb of Detroit,” said Bruce McCully, founder of Ann Arbor-based information technology consultancy Dynamic Edge. “We may live in our own little world because of the university and a lot of effort that goes into creating jobs and new technology along with the university. However, if Detroit fails, so does Ann Arbor.”

There’s a reason why “when you go to the airport, you don’t go to Ann Arbor Metro Airport,” McCully added. Which is why “it’s worth the time and investment” to rebuild Detroit.

To attract young professionals, Ann Arbor tech companies like Menlo Innovations, SRT Solutions, Dynamic Edge, MyBuys and Barracuda Networks must promote the entire southeast Michigan region.

A revitalized Detroit would lift the entire region’s image, which means those companies will have access to better talent. With better talent, they’ll be more likely to reap profits, reinvest in the community and add more jobs.

“For the region to work, Detroit needs to work,” said Lou Glazer, president of Ann Arbor-based think tank Michigan Future.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Sun, May 29, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

Richard Longworth, author of "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism", states that creative and smart people like to be near each other, that's how ideas are shared and synergies are created. There's a reason why people pay enormous rents and mortgages to live in downtown Chicago or Manhattan. Clearly, you can get much more property for your buck in the hinterlands. However, smart and creative people attract other smart and creative people by developing environments in which these types thrive. In downtown Chicago and Manhattan, nearly 66% of the residents have a four year college degree. If anyone in Michigan thinks for one minute that the Great Lake State can succeed without a successful Detroit, they're deluding themselves.