Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Economic Analysis of Detroit's Food System

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I was honored to be one of the lead consultants responsible for developing an Economic Analysis of Detroit's Food System. The report is now out and I think I speak for the whole team when I say that we're pretty proud of both the final product and the innovative approach that we utilized--combining quantitative analysis, on-the-ground community stakeholder involvement, and pragmatic policy recommendations.

I really enjoyed this project. The local stakeholders were great to work with. It was also an amazing opportunity to get to see and learn more about Detroit--a city with such challenges, yet so much potential and so many entrepreneurial people who are dedicated to their city's future.

The lead consultant firm on this project was Econsult Solutions (ESI), and I did this work wearing my hat as a Senior Advisor with ESI. I want to give a shout out to ESI's Sr. VP Lee Huang who did a great job leading the effort and developing a sound economics approach to a very complex challenge. The other firm on our team was Urbane Development, led by the great James Johnson-Piett. The report was commissioned by the Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative and funding was provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

To quote the report:
"This report arrives at a critical time for the future of Detroit’s food system. With a new mayor in office, burgeoning interest in the revitalization of the city, and an increased national and regional focus on the importance of local food, now is the time to discuss the role of efficient and equiTable food systems in Detroit’s economy."

"This report seeks to assess the current state of Detroit’s food economy, highlighting the opportunities and challenges of the manner in which city residents and stakeholders currently interact with the food sector. The purpose is to develop a strategic approach to cultivating a food system that works for all city residents." 
Findings include:
  • The Detroit Food System produces $3.6 billion in revenue and directly employs over 36,000 people earning close to $1 billion in salaries and wages per year in the city of Detroit.
  • Including Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, the food system in the Detroit Metro area is responsible for about 45.8 billion in economic impact, supporting about 59,000 jobs and about 1.9 billion in wages and earnings per year.
  • The Detroit food system pays less, provides fewer jobs and garners less revenue than comparable regional food systems throughout the country.
  • With a 30% localization shift, the food system would become the second largest industry in Detroit's economy, represent $5.4 billion in annual revenues, directly employ over 52,000 people and represent 1.3 billion in annual wages and salaries.
Check out the full report here. I welcome your comments and feedback.

A final shout out to everybody on the ground in Detroit who is working hard to turn their city into a success story of urban resurgence and resilience. Your efforts are inspiring.

Best, Greg