DTE Energy is partnering on a very exciting, year-long initiative called Challenge Detroit focused on energizing the city’s core of creative and talented professionals to live in, work in, and generate innovative and impactful solutions to pressing needs of Detroit. The Atlantic magazine recently ran a thought-provoking article “Detroit Issues a Challenge to Save the City” on the program.

WE DTE thinks it is worth your time to check out the article profiling DTE’s Challenge Detroit fellow and urban planner, Jason Zogg, who is working at DTE through August 2013. He joined DTE’s Major Enterprise Projects group as a business analyst who will be acting as a liaison between DTE and Challenge Detroit and providing his unique input on strategies for revitalizing neighborhoods surrounding DTE’s downtown Detroit Headquarters.

WE DTE sat down with him for a chat recently.

WE DTE: As an energy company, why is DTE interested in participating in Challenge Detroit?
JZ: DTE recognizes it is a vital part of the community. In fact, the company’s purpose statement rings true to that belief, “We serve with our energy, the lifeblood of communities, the engine of progress.” We are a critical force in the communities where we serve, live, work and play, and that includes accelerating the revitalization of the community where a large part of our operations are located and our customers live and work – right here in the “D.”

WE DTE: How would you characterize DTE Energy’s involvement in Detroit’s “renaissance?”
JZ: Challenge Detroit is one among many efforts DTE Energy has undertaken to make a difference in the community, whether it is enhancing its own properties in the city or challenging others to make a difference, DTE has recognized its role as a corporate citizen. In my group at DTE, we are collaborating on a revitalization initiative in the neighborhood around our downtown campus. It’s exciting to be in the planning phase of this work, because the sky’s the limit on the things we can achieve.

WE DTE: What will it take for Challenge Detroit to become a sustainable program, and what role will DTE play?
JZ: Challenge Detroit would not be possible without the commitment and financial support provided by corporate citizens, such as DTE, and community leaders. Collaboration between Challenge Detroit, businesses and community organizations brings together in-kind services and donations, as well as the supplying of event space and professional mentorship programs.

With the support of these entities, I believe we can begin to achieve the fundamental principle of urban planning which is to create cities, organizations, buildings or transportation systems that are vibrant, economically viable and environmentally responsible. There is enormous potential for Detroit to create a global model for other cities to emulate.

Click here to check out Jason Zogg’s most recent blog, or view his video below.

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