For years, the once great Motor City has been in decline. In 1950, population peaked at 1.8 million, making Detroit the fifth largest populated city. Today, that number lies closer to a meager 700,000.

Hercules once came to Detroit for a better opportunity. Sadly, his customers, neighbors and colleagues have now left. Those that remain, struggle. Unemployment is at 16 percent; 36 percent of citizens are in poverty.

HHI’s neighborhood is a microcosm of the rest of the city. Vacant houses and buildings litter the streets, often in darkness as 40 percent of the city’s streetlights don’t work. Houses list for as a little as a dollar, but there are no takers. Who’d want to come to a city with high taxes, few jobs and questionable safety (police response times are usually an hour)?

HHI used to supply 300 facilities in the Detroit Public Schools district. But with consolidation as people leave the city, there are now only 100 schools open.

“Things were declining the last three years, but they were significantly impactful last year,” says Belinda.

Last year is when Detroit became the largest city in the United States to file for bankruptcy. Owing upwards of $20 billion, it was also the highest municipal bankruptcy filing by debt.

One of the vendors left wondering if they’d get paid was HHI. During its years of business with the city, there were times that municipalities couldn’t pay their bills. HHI allowed it to postpone payments, but when Detroit filed for Chapter 9, it was unclear if the company would ever receive any of what it was owed.

They could have sued the city, but instead Belinda, her parents, and the rest of HHI stood by their beloved home. They sympathized with its challenges. And ultimately, they were paid.

“The city has been good to us,” says Hercules. “We weathered the storm with them and it labeled us an ‘essential employee’ because we provided them something that they needed.”

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