January 16, 2017 Leave a comment
Detroit (AFP) – From the outside, there’s nothing much to say about this nondescript, hulking building in downtown Detroit, once the cradle of American industry.
But inside this former General Motors research lab, the fifth floor has been transformed into a state-of-the-art workshop producing watches and high-end bicycles.
Welcome to Shinola, a young American luxury lifestyle company breathing new life into the “Made in USA” label — a designation championed by President-elect Donald Trump.
The firm, which shares the building with a design school, has built an open factory space with wooden desks reminiscent of 1950s movie sets and high-tech machinery.
Watches, handbags, appointment books and other accessories carrying the “Made in Detroit” label are turned out here, while the bikes — made from parts designed in neighboring Wisconsin — and turntables, a new product, are assembled at the flagship store located nearby.
Dozens of employees work here — most of them African Americans, who make up the majority of residents in this blighted working-class city, forced into bankruptcy in 2013 under the weight of its massive debt.
Detroit suffered hugely from the decline of US manufacturing and especially the difficulties facing the “Big Three” — auto giants General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.
The unemployment rate hit 10.4 percent in November, compared to the national average of 4.6 percent, according to official statistics.