DETROIT AUTO SHOW
REGAINS ITS SWAGGER

When the world-class transport and logistics experts of Select 1 Group (S1G) arrive with their loads of high-end new model and concept cars for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, they can expect to find both a show and a city with something new to brag about.

It’s no secret that times have been tough on segments of the American auto industry and that goes double for the city of its birth, Detroit. Sagging auto sales coupled with the recession hit the Motor City hard. Those challenges came on the heels of a decades-long decline in the city’s once-vibrant core, leaving some observers to characterize downtown Detroit, with its many vacant and abandoned office buildings and hotels, as something of a war zone.

Two things are indicating a major turnaround for the city and its Detroit River-front downtown. First, a general improvement in construction and plans for future development have downtown on the upswing. One major project will be immediately apparent to Auto Show attendees: a high-rise apartment and condo complex right next door to the Cobo Center and Joe Louis Arena on the river. In addition, the NHL Detroit Red Wings organization is building a $650-million dollar sports, dining and retail complex near the Tigers’ Comerica Park, a concept called District Detroit. The idea with both projects is to lure younger, hip urban dwellers downtown to live, work and play.

Of course, a major contributor to downtown Detroit’s revitalization is the NAIAS itself. The event, to which S1G crews will once again manage transportation and logistics for several major auto manufacturers, carries an annual economic impact of more than $350-million dollars. Show organizers like to point out that this kind of financial muscle is like having the Super Bowl in town every year.

Another promising development is that the auto industry in general seems to be getting its swagger back. After several years of relying on trusted performers, many are abandoning the more buttoned-down approach to auto shows of recent years for exciting new features. Many are keyed by horsepower but luxury is back in style, too. All these components have show organizers and civic leaders excited that the 2015 NAIAS will help key a much-needed renaissance in a city center that has been something of an eyesore for longer than many of them like to remember.

This year’s NAIAS runs from January 17-25.