I just got back from a short trip to Detroit. Every time I go there, the city looks better. Downtown Detroit is now in really good shape, with lots of businesses and activity. Some combination of the casinos, the stadiums, and general urban renewal have really brought life back to downtown.
I’m also struck every time I go to Detroit by just how central the automotive industry is to the city. Probably half of the people I met worked in automotive, and it seemed like every business I drove past was automotive-focused. That’s especially true in the suburbs.
When I worked as a software engineer at AOL in the early aughts, I always got this sense that for all our good work, the real beating heart of the industry was in the Bay Area. Now that I work as an autonomous vehicle engineer in the Bay Area, it feels like the real beating heart of the industry is Detroit.