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Newsweek Scores Detroit But Do the Numbers Mean Anything?

Everyone loves a "Can-Do!" headline for Detroit. So it is nice to see our city in Newsweek's list of Can-Do Capitals. Or is it? Detroit is number 18 with a score of 57.87 out of 100. That does not sound like a winner. What were they basing that on? An odd mix of things that Detroit is not particularly good at (with the exception of green space and cheap housing) that seem to have nothing to do with being Can-Do! They also made the odd choice of selecting the ominous corporate behemoth that is the Ren Center to illustrate "Can-Do!" Doesn't really say progress, does it?

Sustainability: We got 15.14 points out of 25. How did that happen? The number reflects that carbon footprint (cough *Motor City fuel usage uh oh* cough) but also the change in total park acreage (we have tons of non-park green space. Can we count empty fields?) Our numbers were not helped by taking a count of LEED-certified buildings in the area but that does not mean our buildings are not sustainable. LEED is a point system and the owners/architects have to pay to register the building. Tends to happen when they have extra money to blow on point systems.

Livability: We got 13.72 points out of 25. Based on what? The number of people with healthcare and at least a bachelor’s degree. They also look at the change in cost of living from 2005 to 2009 and considering real estate tanked our number should be a bit more awesome. Hello $500 houses? There should be a separate category for real estate; freelancers and start ups don't do well with healthcare scores but they sure Can-Do!

Transportation and Infrastructure: 13.24 points out of 25. Well this can't turn out to well. What did they look at? The momentum of new construction and how people travel as a comparison of public transportation or walking v. driving. 13 points again? The same as the livability score? That does not seem right. We are far more livable than transportable. Unless there is a secret People Mover's workforce living in the 3 mile loop we are unaware of?

Business Development: 15.77 points out of 25. These numbers look at Moody’s cost-of-doing-business index and the change in unemployment. The figure includes the percentage change in patents issued, the small-business growth rate, and venture capital growth for new startups. Well that is going to be a mixed one for us but this category's criteria is looking a bit more even by balancing unemployment with small-business growth and it was closest we came to a 25.

So final score that Newsweek gave Detroit was 57.87 out of 100. And the final score Curbed Detroit is giving this Newsweek rating system is a 1 out of 4. For three ratings categories that don't have anything to do with Can-Do. Unfortunately we have to subtract a point for poor choice in image section. Results? That would be a "Can't-Do" 0 for Newsweek rating systems.

· America’s 20 Can-Do Capitals: Detroit, MI [Newsweek]