By Martin Lavelle
Recently, Detroit’s newly elected mayor, Mike Duggan, visited the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to discuss possible avenues of revitalization for the city with our Board of Directors. On this occasion—and as Detroit looks past its fiscal bankruptcy and toward a brighter future—we briefly took stock of the Branch’s role in serving the Southeast Michigan community. Clearly, the Branch is involved in helping the community in a variety of ways. We’re involved in programs with entities such as United Way, Junior Achievement, the Michigan JumpStart coalition, Gleaners Food Bank, Forgotten Harvest, and the Detroit Rescue Mission. Moreover, one of our Bank officers serves on the board of directors of the Plymouth Educational Center Charter School; this school, which is located on Forest Avenue (right behind the Branch), serves over 1,200 students, with the vast majority of them being residents of the city of Detroit. Relatedly, in partnership with the Michigan Council on Economic Education, we host an event called Teacher Night at the Fed, where teachers gain professional development on a subject related to financial literacy and economics while earning continuing educational credits. Many of the attendees at this event teach in the city of Detroit. These are just some of the ways in which the Branch serves Detroit and the wider Southeast Michigan community. There are several other avenues by which the Branch helps the community: Each department—and each employee—devotes a considerable amount of time and energy to serving Detroit and the surrounding areas.
Detroit Branch employees volunteering for the Forgotten Harvest
The Branch’s law enforcement unit is working extensively with the Detroit’s police department to keep the Branch and the neighborhood in which it’s located as safe as possible. Specifically, along with Federal Reserve Bank law enforcement staff, the Detroit Police Department and Special Response Team/Mayor’s Executive Protection Unit train on our firing range.
Our Supervision and Regulation Department provides oversight to financial institutions in a way that fosters a sound, accessible, and competitive financial system that inspires trust. This department’s staff members conduct examinations of community banks to ensure they are operating in a safe and sound manner; our staff members check that these banks are abiding by all applicable federal consumer laws and regulations while making sure the credit needs of the community are being met fairly and equally.
Our Community & Policy Studies Department, in partnership with the U.S Treasury Department, held an Investing in Detroit conference on aligning federal resources with local resources in Detroit and its community/economic development efforts. In addition, we’ve hosted video conferences with community leaders in other Rust Belt cities that discussed revitalization strategies involving “anchor institutions” (such as medical centers and universities) that draw investment in many forms and considered how arts and culture interact and intersect with anchor institutions to generate economic opportunities and jobs, especially for low- and moderate-income people and areas. Additionally, this department now runs a poll that is part of a study being conducted of small businesses in Detroit and the resources and networks they rely on in their communities. The poll is being used to identify the community resources that business owners use, the barriers to using these resources, and the primary needs of these businesses.
The Detroit Branch Cash Services area plays a major role in the payment system for the state of Michigan. Some of the functions that Cash Services performs include counting, verifying, distributing and destroying currency. The department seeks to provide high-quality, reliable cash services that contribute to the integrity of the United States financial system. On average, the Detroit Branch ships out over $75 million in new U.S. currency notes per day and receives about $66 million per day from the financial institutions within Michigan. The department also destroys about $10 million per day in worn currency notes.
Our research department holds business roundtable meetings, in which we receive regional and national economic updates that contribute to the monetary policymaking process. Every year we host multiple conferences, such as our annual automotive symposium and the multiday conferences that covered natural gas production and possible financial reforms that would restore cities’ financial sustainability. Our economists also give economic updates on our Michigan economy blog as well as in public presentations made at business association meetings and other events. Through such efforts, our economists endeavor to inform and educate the general public about the Federal Reserve’s role in the economy and, more generally, about the latest economic trends and research findings.
The Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago will continue to support the Southeast Michigan community, including the city of Detroit, in all of the previously mentioned ways. And the Branch is committed to assisting Detroit in its turnaround.