Bill Ford Jr. ‘hopeful’ about Detroit following bankruptcy filing

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Bill Ford Jr.

Bill Ford Jr. says he’s “hopeful” about the city of Detroit’s prospects following the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.

Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. — which narrowly avoided bankruptcy during the recent auto crisis and which saw its two domestic competitors, Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co., go through painful restructurings — says Detroit’s Chapter 9 filing, while not ideal, doesn’t stain the image of the entire state, which has been the recent beneficiary of billions of dollars in investments, has experienced falling unemployment numbers and has turned around its balance sheet.

“Our state as a whole is doing really well,” Ford Jr. said Saturday at an event honoring his great-grandfather, Henry Ford. “A lot of the measures that one looks at, whether job creation or a budget surplus, there a lot of very positive things going on in the state.

“That in no way diminishes a lot of the serious issues that are taking place in the city of Detroit, but it doesn’t casts its shadow over the entire state.”

But the positives haven’t stopped Detroit from grabbing all of the recent headlines — including on the cover of Time Magazine with the headline, “Is your city next?” — since Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr said the city could no longer finance its debts.

Ford Jr. thinks the national media has largely missed the boat on highlighting the positive changes in Detroit, particularly in the downtown business district.

“Even in Detroit, there’s a lot of positive action going on,” Ford Jr. said. “There are a lot of young people moving into the lofts, businesses moving downtown and lots of real estate renovation taking place, so I’m hopeful about the city without diminishing the very tough time we’re going through.”

Ford Jr. says he’s a big fan of Dan Gilbert and says he talks to the billionaire Quicken Loans Inc. founder “almost every day.”

“Dan’s got his point of view and I’ve got mine,” Ford Jr. said. “We both like each other and find that we work really well together. We’re doing some stuff together and doing other stuff individually.

“He’s a good guy and I really like his spirit that he’s attacking this stuff with.”

Courtesy of The Detroit News


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