DETROIT — A bankruptcy expert who represented Chrysler during its successful restructuring has been chosen to steer Detroit out of the financial abyss that has swallowed the distressed city, which was once one of the nation’s most prosperous.
Governor Rick Snyder announced Thursday that he had chosen Kevyn Orr, a partner in the Cleveland-based law firm of Jones Day, to be Detroit’s emergency manager, a position that gives him broad powers to control all spending. The move makes Detroit the largest city in the nation to have its finances placed under state control.
‘‘We can rise from the ashes,’’ Orr told a news conference. ‘‘This is a beautiful city and a wonderful state that gave me my start. I feel compelled to do this job.’’
Detroit has lost a quarter of a million people during the last decade and remains saddled with a $327 million budget deficit and more than $14 billion in long-term debt.
It has been making ends meet on a month-to-month basis with the help of bond money held in a state escrow account. The city has also instituted mandatory unpaid days off for many city workers.
When he met with Snyder, Orr said, he asked the governor why he should bother to help the city.
Snyder’s response was, ‘‘Kevyn, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the right time to do it.’’
The new manager said he relished the challenge, even though it meant up giving up his successful job with the law firm.
‘‘It’s not that I’m altruistic, but if we can do this, I will have participated in one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of this country,’’ Orr said.