Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flint: The Comeback Kid...According to Kiplinger's

Flint has a knack for showing up on the ubiquitous lists that rank some aspect of a city. They're always lists that most cities would like to avoid. Most Miserable. Most Depressed. Most Dangerous. Kurt "Bad News" Badenhausen spends a lot of his time at Forbes compiling these useless tallies. But they sure generate online hits, so they're not going away any time soon.

So even though I've questioned the need for these lists, it's still refreshing when the Vehicle City shows up on a list for something positive. Kiplinger, the influential business forecasting company, has selected Flint as one of 13 "Comeback Cities" in 2011.
The health care and life sciences industries are giving long-suffering Flint a shot in the arm. Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy relocated its headquarters from the suburbs to the city, using a former auto assembly site for its offices, while both the city’s public hospital, Hurley Medical Center, and McLaren Regional Medical Center are bulking up.

Meanwhile, Flint’s traditional employer, the auto industry, is no longer at idle. General Motors -- the community’s single largest employer -- plans to start a third shift at its assembly plant in Flint for a net increase of 750 jobs, phased in over the summer. Flint's employment fell nearly 12% during the downturn, and is forecast to rise about 2.6% this year.


  1. It has a certain ring to it. :-D

  2. Kiplinger needs to roll through town and take a closer look!

    Maybe downtown shows some improvement but thats about it!

    Decay continues!

  3. But that would require something none of these quickie lists have, regardless of whether they are positive or negative — actual reporting. You can get away with no reporting when it's a list on the ten worst NBA uniforms, but not lists about economic forecasting.

  4. Cities don't get a "shot in the arm" (nice choice of metaphors, Kipplinger) from provision of local services and pharma distribution. Both of those are fundamentally neutral or import-tilted in regard to the locale's balance of payments and thus net income.

    A locale cannot be economically healthy without significant income from export-something-out-of-the-locale activities. Classically that means manufacturing, mining or agriculture. Products go out, income comes back.

    If the analysis is of Metro Flint, it might be appropriate to consider the outer tier of suburbs, such as Fenton. Fenton has at least two companies with significant medical device manufacturing activities.

  5. As they say, the darkest hour is just before dawn. Flint is overdue for some good news.

  6. Yes, it is the metropolitan area, with a pop. of more than 400,000. And, not to be negative, but when the economy has fallen so far, a small upswing with the rest of the economy is bound to happen at some point. It's kind of like Silicon Valley startups who boast that customers have doubled over the last month. Well, if there were two customers to begin with, that's not that impressive. At the same time, this kind of mention in a national publication can't hurt.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.