Can the Motor City shed its rust belt image and take on a persona more in line with high-tech communities like San Francisco, Palo Alto, California or Seattle? Yes, says Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford, who contends Michigan, as a whole, can be repositioned as the “Silicon Valley of Mobility.”
In a sense, it’s a matter of been-there-done-that. In its heyday, in the early years of the 20th Century, Detroit was the quintessential American boom town, much like Silicon Valley is today. It was dubbed by many the “Paris of the Midwest” because of its art, architecture and sophisticated lifestyle. But things began to rapidly decline in the post-War years and today some old industrial sites are being converted back to farmland.
But in a speech during the annual Mackinac Policy Conference, Chairman Ford insisted continuing decline is not inevitable – especially if Detroit and Michigan embrace new “green, smart technologies.”
“To address this issue, we will once again need new technologies, as well as new ways of looking at the world. We will need to view the automobile as one element of a transportation ecosystem,” the great-grandson of Ford founder Henry Ford declared.