- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Friday that President Barack Obama expressed interest in his ideas for creating economic opportunities in the bankrupt city and requested a formal plan within 90 days.

The pair shared a lunch of salmon and rice at the Michigan Biotechnology Institute in Lansing before Obama signed the federal farm bill at Michigan State University. Duggan declined to share specifics but said his ideas focus on bringing jobs back into the city.

“We talked about my administration’s focus on creating paths of opportunities for people who have been left out of the recovery … and the president is on the same track nationally,” Duggan told reporters after the bill signing. “He was interested in it, so I have some work to do now. … He was very encouraging.”

The Obama administration has said there won’t be a federal bailout of the city, which is undergoing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Duggan, who took office last month, said that wasn’t part of the conversation and “I have never asked for money for Detroit” from the state or federal government.

Duggan also said Obama was interested in his relationship with Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, who controls the city’s finances. Duggan said he offered the president a “candid assessment” that would stay between them, but quickly added that he and Orr “are working together” and “don’t fight.”

Obama told an audience of several hundred that Duggan wanted everyone to know that “Detroit is open for business.”

They were joined at lunch by White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Don Graves, the president’s point person on Detroit, senior adviser at the President’s National Economic Council.

Duggan joked the menu was “healthy,” but the mayor admitted he did “sneak two cookies on the way out.”

Last month, Vice President Joe Biden ate dinner with Duggan during his visit to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. When asked what he does for a gastronomic encore, Duggan laughed.

“I don’t know if the Pope’s coming town,” Duggan said. “But it’s been a pretty exciting couple of weeks.”


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