What does Detroit do now?

After becoming the first major city to file for bankruptcy, the once industrious Motor City has a long road to recovery ahead.

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The Motor City’s bankruptcy filing last week put the city’s debt at $18.5 billion, and eating up much of it are the retiree pensions and health benefits of city workers.

In terms of reputation management, the bankruptcy filing and long list of creditors are only part of the problem. Detroit’s reputation is tarnished by corruption, an exodus by residents, a high crime rate, thousands of abandoned buildings, and crumbling infrastructure.

Detroit’s culture—whatever is left of it—is on the verge of being lost, too. The Detroit Historical Society and its collections of cars might go to creditors, but that’s a small price to pay if the city can start on the road to recovery.

In a press conference announcing the bankruptcy, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said: “Now is the opportunity to stop 60 years of decline. … How many times have you said to stop kicking the can down the road and do something? We are doing something.”

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