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To Tackle America's Greatest Challenges, Follow Detroit's Lead

Jamie Dimon
Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

I've traveled to Detroit on business for more than 25 years, and the signs of the city's recovery are becoming apparent. Although the city has a long way to go, you can feel the increasing energy and spirit of cooperation that businesses, government and nonprofits have to increase economic growth and create greater opportunity for all. The city has exited bankruptcy, fixed thousands of streetlights, and improved emergency response times and started to reduce blight.

Full credit goes to Mayor Mike Duggan, a Democrat, and Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican. They are trying new ideas and modifying plans as they go along, never pointing fingers or worrying about taking credit.

The collaborative approach fosters an environment where individuals and businesses, large and small, have growing confidence to invest and build. JPMorgan Chase is proud of its 80-plus years serving Detroit and, most recently, of the company's $100 million commitment to help bolster the city's recovery.

Detroit's collaborative approach to problem-solving is instructive. With less partisanship and more partnership, leaders in Washington can follow the Motor City's lead to tackle five areas of pressing national concern. Finding creative ways to address them would substantially boost economic growth and create more opportunity for more Americans, particularly in low-income households.

First is the need for more—and smarter—investment in America's roads, bridges, tunnels, ports and airports. Physical infrastructure is a natural job creator in the near term and establishes conditions for long-term growth. The federal government and all of our major cities and states should have five to 20-year intelligent infrastructure plans driven by what we really need—not the political wheeling and dealing that ends up building bridges to nowhere. Detroit's M1 rail line—a 3.3-mile streetcar line to connect many of the city's economic, housing, cultural and health-care hubs that will be ready for passengers in the Spring of 2017—is a great example of the public and private sector leveraging each other's resources and expertise.

Second is an immigration policy long overdue for reform. We need a non-politicized approach that properly protects the borders, provides for a true path to citizenship for law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, and allows smart, ambitious and hardworking people to remain here as contributors to the country's economy.

It is alarming that approximately 40% of the men and women who earn advance degrees in science, technology engineering and math at American universities are foreign nationals with no legal way of remaining here even when many of them would choose to do so. Sens. John McCain and Chuck Schumer proposed detailed legislation in 2013 that would allow them to stay. The government’s chief actuary has estimated their proposal would increase real GDP by 1.63% and create 3.3 million jobs over 10 years.

Detroit Skyline