Sunday, November 14, 2010

Arab-Americans: Detroit's Unlikely Saviors

Time Magazine

To disprove the charge that Detroit is in terminal decline, Nafa Khalaf offers himself as Exhibit A. In 1999, when he co-founded his business, which builds water systems and other public works, "people were saying the city was dying," Khalaf recalls. "They said, 'You shouldn't be doing business here.'" But since then, his firm, Detroit Contracting, has thrived and expanded. Employing 23 people, the company brings in more than $20 million a year in revenue. "And 90% of my business is in Detroit," he says triumphantly. "Does that sound like a dying city to you?"

When I remind Khalaf that his optimism flies in the face of the city's litany of problems — a shrinking population, chronic unemployment and overstretched services — my skepticism only encourages him to press on. What others see as an urban disaster zone, Khalaf views as a land of opportunity. The Motor City, he says, gave him chances that would have been inconceivable in his native Iraq. Khalaf went to Detroit's Wayne State University in 1986 to study engineering and was so impressed with the city that he never returned to his homeland. "You want to know if Detroit has a future? Ask us Arabs," Khalaf says. "We believe in this place." [...]

1 comment :

  1. Detroit Metro has LONG been the largest population of Arab-Americans.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.