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Memo to a young, new Saab – please move your US headquarters out of Detroit

March 19, 2009 in Archive

As I look forward to a new, wholly-owned-by-a-responsible-company version of Saab, I thought I’d dream a little of the Saab I’d like to see. These are just the thoughts of an enthusiast and I don’t really know how viable they are, but I don’t think they’re beyond being a possibility.
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A renewed and optimistic Saab will hopefully have the chance to do more than just bring out three new models in the next 18 months.
A new, separate Saab will also hopefully have the opportunity to re-vamp its sales and marketing networks. In Saab’s biggest market, the US, those functions are based at GM’s headquarters in the Renaissance Center in Detroit.
I hope the Detroit natives who are reading this aren’t offended, but having visited there in January last year, I can honestly say that I think Saab’s employees in the US would be at least 20% more productive in a better environment – through nothing more than sheer happiness with where they’re living.
There’s obviously some good neighborhoods in Detroit, but they were some way away from the bits of the city that I saw. What I saw was a concrete jungle that was surely just a shadow of its former self.
I don’t know of any other city in the world that’s been the subject of a number of recent photographic essays focused solely on the city’s decay. Here’s one at Time Magazine, for example.
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I’m not sure what the community spirit would be like there with so many people in the same boat. I guess you’ve got to either pull together, or crumble together. I’m guessing they’ve figured out a way to accentuate the positive and work together.
But still, I wonder how many of Detroit’s serious car guys and girls would prefer to be practising their chosen profession in a warmer and more friendly place.
With their independence from GM literally just months away, I hope Saab give some thought to relocating their staff in Detroit to a new location.
Perhaps they could move back to Saab’s heartland in the north-east? Maybe they can try and expand their outlook with a move to California or join the collective mile-high cub in Colorado?
It’s a new dawn, a new day. Time for the Saab staff to start feeling good.

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