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Detroit's Automotive Industry Transitions to Electric Vehicles, Spurring Tech & Building Development

City of Detroit

Detroit, MI

The Detroit automotive industry's transition to tech has regenerated the City's economy, spurring residential, commercial, and small business development. To accommodate the innovative entrepreneur community, the city was looking to implement a user-friendly building permit software with more visibility.

Topics Covered

Process Improvement


Initial: 300 Thousand USD


General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2018

Gov Champion

The Buildings Safety and Engineering Department

Problem Addressed

Detroit was struggling to manage the uptick in building and business development with its current permitting system.

Following a restructuring in 2013, Detroit was looking to optimize its economic development. As the city's automotive leaders, like Ford and FCA, transitioned to electric cars and autonomous vehicles, IT presence has grown. The city has seen a large uptick in residential, commercial, and small business development throughout the community as a result. However, their current permitting system could not handle the increase in permitting applications citywide.

After the restructuring, Detroit wanted to rebrand itself as a sustainable, development-ready city and to do so, they needed to make the permitting process user-friendly and accessible.

Solutions Used

Detroit increased its permitting capacity by streamlining its building application system.

James Foster, Detroit's Senior Manager of Buildings Safety & Engineering Department, knew that the best way to support the city's growing entrepreneur community was to streamline its building and property application system. Going in with the mentality of "Why not Detroit?," Detroit has emerged as a redevelopment ready municipality, focused on process improvement.

With billions of dollars contributed to building permitting yearly, Detroit was looking for a more sustainable solution that would enable permitting growth. The city implemented Avolve's Online Application System (OAS) and ProjectDox, giving citizens increased accessibility to building permitting as well as more visibility during the review process. They subsequently added Accela to their smart strategy, completing their suite of building software technologies.

The Buildings Safety and Engineering Department uses these solutions for a variety of permit types including new buildings, alternations, temporaries, demolitions, down to signs and awnings. This includes inspections and business licensing as well. The solutions also enable the city to add new additional workflows for departments with plan review needs.



The ability to accommodate the annual 8,000 permit application submissions


The Buildings Safety and Engineering Department has been able to use ProjectDox to best optimize Accela for construction inspection, business licensing, property compliance, and zoning


Process Improvement has allowed the city to better support entrepreneurs and the growing IT development

Who Should Consider

Cities looking to streamline their building permitting processes and increase visibility for constituents.

Last Updated

Mar 21st, 2022
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