Axios Detroit

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Today's newsletter is 879 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Joe Guillen and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: Diarra Kilpatrick stars in Detroit comedy

Detroit native Diarra Kilpatrick. Photo: Arnold Turner/Getty Images for BET+

"Diarra From Detroit," a new show on BET+, could follow "Sister, Sister" and "Martin" as the next hit Black comedy series set in Detroit.

Why it matters: Detroit native Diarra Kilpatrick is the show's creator, executive producer, writer and star, Axios' Maxwell Millington reports.

  • Prior to this series, Kilpatrick was a comedy writer and had recurring roles in HBO's "Perry Mason" and Tracy Morgan's sitcom "The Last O.G."

Zoom in: Kilpatrick's artistic background started at Bates Academy. She was part of the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit and went to high school at Detroit Country Day.

What they're saying: Kilpatrick told Axios about capturing the Detroit experience at the show's premiere in Hollywood last week.

  • "Anybody who said 'soda' on set was automatically fined — it's 'pop' or nothing," she joked.
  • "I'm from all of Detroit," she said in an interview with Paper Magazine.

The actor also said she wanted to capture the city's east side vs. west side rivalry and showcase local businesses like Flood's.

The intrigue: The cast includes Phylicia Rashad and Morris Chestnut, with cameos from local celebrities like Kash Doll and John Salley.

Kilpatrick tells Axios she hopes lawmakers will bring back state film tax incentives for future seasons of the show to be filmed in Detroit. This season was primarily filmed in New Jersey.

  • "It not only allows us to bring money back into the community and local businesses and feature local talent, but it also helps us get that special sauce of Detroit on screen."

Friction point: Industry advocates and Democratic lawmakers say a new form of incentives would help spur new production locally. But skeptical economists say economic returns have been underwhelming under similar measures.

  • Stalled legislation to provide tax credits for up to 30% of a production company's local costs to produce a film was heard by a state House panel this year.

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2. "Junk" no more

Mayor Mike Duggan gifted small bottles of black ink to his top executives yesterday to symbolize the city going from being "in the red" to "in the black." Photo: Courtesy of the city of Detroit via Flickr

Detroit's debt has received an "investment grade" rating for the first time in 15 years.

The big picture: Since its bankruptcy more than a decade ago, the city has been moving notch by notch toward investment status using conservative spending practices to get the city's finances back in order.

Driving the news: Moody's Investors Service upgraded the city's bond rating two notches to "Baa2" on Friday.

Context: The ratings depict the quality of a government's debt — or how likely the city is to be able to repay that debt without defaulting on it.

  • A lower rating means buying the city's "junk" bonds is riskier for investors while a high rating means they're a safe bet.
  • Some investors only look at investment-grade bonds, meaning the update opens the city's bonds to a bigger market.
  • A larger potential pool of investors could lower interest rates on the city's bonds, meaning it would cost less for the city to borrow money.

The bottom line: "The city's tax base has doubled in the past five years and continued growth will be fueled by ongoing development and recent appreciation of residential values," Moody's wrote in its credit opinion.

  • However, the city still faces challenges, including high resident unemployment and poverty, and a regional labor force that is too concentrated in automotive manufacturing.

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3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

ğŸŽ¤ R&B singer Maxwell announced he's returning this fall to LCA for his Serenade Tour. (Detroit News)

🗳️ Volkswagen and the UAW agreed to a unionization vote at a Tennessee plant. With more than 4,000 workers, the factory would be the only non-Detroit Three automotive assembly plant in the U.S. to be unionized. (Axios)

🏀 Oakland basketball star Trey Townsend is expected to enter the transfer portal for his fifth year of eligibility. Coach Greg Kampe said he wouldn't blame Townsend for playing elsewhere, but he'd love to have him back. (Detroit News)

4. Bus service connects DTW to downtown

A traveler stands outside DTW. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A new bus route taking riders from downtown to DTW started yesterday.

Why it matters: Taking about 30 minutes, the service is the fastest, most direct bus service from the city to DTW and vice versa.

Driving the news: The Regional Transit Authority's Detroit Air Xpress (DAX) runs daily from 3:30am to 11pm.

  • There are 16 round trips available each day with stops at both the McNamara and Evans airport terminals, as well Washington Boulevard and State Street, near the Rosa Parks Transit Center.

Between the lines: The route begins weeks ahead of the NFL Draft, which is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown April 25-27.

  • Travelers will ride in a luxury coach bus that includes WiFi, charging ports and luggage storage.

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Keep reading for DTW on-time departure data...

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5. Detroit flight departure times improving

Share of flights departing on time from DTW
Data: Bureau of Transportation Statistics; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Almost 88% of flights out of DTW departed on time in December.

Zoom out: Nationwide, more than 83% of domestic flights departed on time last December, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from the latest Transportation Department data.

The bottom line: DTW's annual departure performance has been slightly better than the national average in each of the last five years.

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Our picks:

💇‍♂️ Joe hasn't needed a haircut this bad since the pandemic.

⏰ Annalise's schedule is now fully booked with trying to finish "Demon Copperhead" before it's due back to the library. It was one of the Detroit Public Library's top books of last year.

❤️ Sam misses his mom.