Fur. Lumber. Carriages. Cars. Colleges? Even before its incorporation as a city in 1855, Flint had forged a reputation as a place where innovative, world-changing ideas could be made real.
Billy Durant transformed the city's lumber boom into international success in the carriage industry. He then transformed his carriage achievements into the world's leading automobile manufacturer, General Motors.
The success of General Motors would be shared with workers after the Flint Sit-Down Strikes gave birth to the United Auto Workers union (UAW). The gains of Flint's autoworkers lifted wages and benefits for workers throughout the world, and are credited with building the American middle class.
Average working families were then able to send their children to college. Such was the case for the Page family. In his 2009 commencement speech in Ann Arbor, University of Michigan alumnus and Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page acknowledged the role Flint and last century's dominant technology played in shaping his family's future:
"My father's father worked in the Chevy plant in Flint, Michigan. He was an assembly line worker. He drove his two children here to Ann Arbor, and told them, 'That is where you're going to go to college.' Both his kids did graduate from Michigan. That was the American dream."
Today, Flint has more college students than the communities home to Princeton and Yale universities combined. Nearly 34,000 college students are currently enrolled at institutions of higher learning in Genesee County, the majority at the University of Michigan-Flint, Kettering University, Mott Community College, and Baker College.
With more and more of these students choosing to live on or near campus, local community and business leaders are responding by providing this growing population with the services and amenities college students want and expect.
New restaurants, entertainment venues, retail shops, and loft apartments fill historic downtown buildings refurbished to meet these needs – while preserving the architecture, history, and uniqueness of downtown Flint.
Flint has always been a hub where creative and innovative people from all walks of life interact. Musicians and artists have long mingled with business people, community activists, and others. Today, that mix of perspectives and talents is paying off. Flint is quickly becoming known more as a true educational, cultural, artistic, and recreational hotbed than as "Vehicle City."
Those who embrace Flint's transformation as an opportunity to engage with and contribute to "real change" may find the experience to be the most meaningful education of all.
Still a key transportation hub, Flint is located at the intersection of two interstate highways, I-75 and I-69, making convenient travel to nearby cities like Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing – all are less than 60 miles from Flint. The city has a local MTA bus system, an Amtrak train station, and Bishop International Airport – one of the fastest growing airports in the nation.
Metro Flint also boasts many signature annual events, including the Crim Festival of Races, the Flint Film Festival, the Back to the Bricks Classic Car Cruise, and a wide array of vibrant local art, music, and other cultural events. Explore what else Flint has to offer with the Flint-Genesee Regional Convention & Vistors Bureau's online guide.