If Investment was ridiculous in War Torn Iraq, It Will Be Impossible in Detroit without Curbing Crime

helicopterWe hear of suicide bombings and other murderous violence in the news about Iraq, a country under siege since the U.S. Military pulled out last year. In the year that has passed, officials in Iraq have estimated that approximately 7 people died each and every day in the country gripped in terror. Iraq is country with a population close to 33 million people. Its murder ater for 2012 was 7.7 per 100,000.

Detroit wrings its hands over the rising number of murders in a city whose population keeps falling. With a declining population of 706,585, Detroit had 411 murders in 2012, up from 344 in 2011 and 308 in 2010. Detroit’s murder rate for 2012 was 58.2 per 100,000, 7.5 times that of war torn Iraq.

Before, U.S. contractors began pulling out of Iraq, the U.S. government asked a consortium of three companies including mine to put in place a nationwide EMS system in Iraq to support the contractors when the military pulled out. In the midst of developing our venture, the team in Iraq was taken out when a missile took down the helicopter carrying 11 men. The military then deemed Iraq too hot for civilians like ourselves to go in and build resources to support Iraq’s turn around. That tragedy emphasized how important safety is to re-establishing an economy.

Iraq’s terrorized economy is 7.5 times safer than Detroit’s. Detroit is offering enormous incentives for businesses and real estate developers to come in and help rebuild the city. Yet, in a city where people are fleeing as refugees, the prospect for investment is poor. Yet, Detroit’s empty skyscraper was just sold for $5 a square foot where buildings in comparable cities would go for $200. This example signals the level of discounting that must be done to attract investment with such a dangerous state of crime that exists in Detroit.

No matter the solution, lessons learned from the U.S. military might be what is required to stabilize Detroit’s crime for investors to bring businesses back. Yet drastically increased policing in a city that has a history of police brutality and that cannot afford the size of policing efforts it now has would be difficult. Nonetheless, it will be an imperative component of any real solution set.

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