Comeback City

Apr 15, 2011 has named Flint one of 11 'Comeback Cities' for 2011. The national ranking was based on recent improvements in Flint's downtown area and its evolution into a College Town. has ranked Flint as one of 11 “Comeback Cities” around the country for 2011.  The national ranking was based on recent improvements in Flint’s downtown area and its evolution into a College Town.

Kiplinger especially recognized the growth in Flint’s life sciences industry — specifically, the move of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy headquarters from suburban Swartz Creek to the south side of Flint in a former General Motors building.  On the Web site, Kiplinger stated: “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 the city’s public hospitals, Hurley Medical Center and McLaren Regional Medical Center, are bulking up.”

Flint’s reinvention as a College Town was also noted.  Flint and Genesee County now have more than 33,700 college students enrolled at four College Town partners -- Kettering, the University of Michigan-Flint, Baker College and Mott Community College – along with satellite facilities for several other colleges.  Read more on College Town:

Dr. Andy Borchers, professor and head of Kettering’s Business Department, said the Kiplinger announcement reflects a common theme for recovering cities in the Rust Belt.  “Manufacturing is not dead in the U.S.,” Borchers said, “but manufacturing towns like Flint have to re-balance themselves with a healthier mix of industries including health care, education and traditional manufacturing.  If community leaders and citizens can work together to create a business friendly environment, Flint should see the kind of renewal bigger cities like Pittsburgh have seen,” he added.

Mike Brown, president of Flint’s Prima Civitas Foundation, a regional economic development group, highlighted one particular strategy: “Flint’s redevelopment is built on true collaboration,” Brown said.  “The best example is our Swedish Bio-Gas project, which is a cutting-edge technology for communities to dispose of human waste while creating alternative energy.  The implementation of the project is called a triple helix approach because it brings together government, private sector and higher education.”

Added Neil Sheridan, director of Kettering’s TechWorks: “Flint’s resurgence reflects a very broad collaboration of business, higher education, health care, government and community groups,” he explained.  “Its real power is letting us reach a common regional understanding of what needs to be done and how we’re doing it now,” Sheridan concluded.

Other cities on Kiplinger’s national list included Chattanooga, Orlando, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Portland, Ore.  See the Kiplinger story.  Kiplinger is a Washington, D.C.-based publisher of business forecasts and personal financeadvice, available in print, online, audio, video and software products.

Written by Patricia Mroczek, with Kiplinger sources