The birthplace of General Motors, Flint's fortunes have long been tied to the fate of the auto industry.
As GM closed factories and cut its workforce in Flint from 77,000 in the 1970s to fewer than 8,000 today, the area''s economy and its population have taken a sizable hit.
And the area's crime rate isn't helping: Flint is one of the nation's most dangerous cities, with 67 murders in 2012, according to Mayor Dayne Walling.
There are some signs of progress, however. Mark Perry, a professor of economics and business development at the University of Michigan at Flint and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said several colleges, including his own, have increased their local presence. UM Flint, which has long been a commuter school, has built more student housing, which has revived the restaurant and bar scene downtown.
And Walling said that many of the small machine and electronics plants are finding opportunities outside the auto industry.