Flex-N-Gate investment attests to strong manufacturing in Detroit

From the desk of: Glen W. Long, Jr., Chief Financial Officer, Interim President & CEO

We celebrated a very important investment in the City of Detroit this week when top automotive supplier Flex-N-Gate hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at 7000 Georgia Street in the I-94 Industrial Center, future site of its new $95-million manufacturing facility. It will be the largest investment by an auto supplier in the City of Detroit in more than 20 years.

This is a huge win for two reasons: it proves the manufacturing industry is strong in Detroit, and it will create 400 to up to 700 new jobs in an area where new jobs are sorely needed. Flex-N-Gate has committed to hiring Detroiters and Detroit-based contractors, as well as developing a comprehensive hiring plan in conjunction with the City of Detroit Human Rights Department and Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. to help ensure permanent jobs for Detroiters. Its new facility is expected to open next year.

A key reason Flex-N-Gate was able to locate in Detroit was the tax incentives administered by DEGC through the Detroit Next Michigan Development Corporation, one of the public authorities DEGC manages.

The 189-acre I-94 Industrial Park has been under control of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) since 2000, with EDC overseeing property acquisition, clean up and development of the land. LINC Logistics was the Park’s first major new tenant when it opened a new $30-million, 500,000 sq. ft. facility last year, immediately adjacent to the Flex-N-Gate site.

This latest investment in the I-94 Industrial Park is the culmination of a collaborative effort among the City of Detroit, DEGC and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which administers incentives and programs on behalf of the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Detroit Economic Development Called Out as a National Model in Times of Uncertainty

FROM: Malinda Jensen, Senior Vice President, Board Administration and Government Affairs

Malinda Jensen photo
Malinda Jensen
Sr. VP Board Administration & Govt. Affairs

Motor City Match has now gotten a second endorsement from the current administration in Washington. At a forum of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in Washington recently, Jessie Handforth Kome, acting director of block grant assistance at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was a panelist in a session called “City Opportunities.”

Kome spoke highly of Motor City Match, as an example of a “best practice program for matching small businesses with underutilized vacant space.” HUD Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson had previously praised the program during a visit to Detroit.

I saw Kome’s session, attending the IEDC Fed Forum as a representative of DEGC and Detroit. It really was exciting to hear the buzz around all the terrific things going on here. That’s especially true because the IEDC brings together professionals from places around the world. We all share the desire to promote economic development within our communities, and I always learn from my colleagues and competitors about ideas or best practices we can use here. I hope they also learn from the dedicated efforts we are making to bring the benefits of economic development to every part of the city and every citizen who lives in it. Motor City Match is just one of those initiatives.

The Community Development Block Grants that fund Motor City Match and grants from the Economic Development Administration that are currently supporting Detroit’s industrial and commercial redevelopment around the I-94 Industrial Park are in budget jeopardy right now. If you would like to know why federal funds spent on economic development pays off for communities, please download this brochure from IEDC. It does a very good job of explaining the payoff from federal investments Why Invest in Economic Development.

DEGC Keeps Moving Forward

If you have been reading or hearing some negative opinions in the media about DEGC, don’t be alarmed because we are still working with the same focus and intensity as ever — if not more.

In late March we facilitated DBRA approval of plans for the Pistons Practice Facility and Herman Kiefer redevelopments, and during the next 30 days we will announce a proposed DDA TIF Plan Revision, hold Motor City Match events, continue facilitating development in the arena district, grow our foreign direct investment program and much more.

While any transition at the top of an organization will create a few distractions, I’ve been here for almost 25 years and CFO since 2002, and I’m just a part of DEGC’s deep bench strength with its 48 experienced professionals. Our leadership team has a great balance of seasoned members mixed with knowledgeable new-comers who bring fresh skills and perspectives.

We are in the midst of a tremendous revitalization of the city of Detroit, with important and exciting work to do with both large and small enterprises, in neighborhoods throughout the city, and with interested companies and investors from around the world.

Our overall mission and work has not changed. We will have a new home for the Red Wings and Pistons this fall. We will continue to manage successful programs supporting small business. We will continue to attract new business to Detroit. We will continue to support Riverfront development. Most of all, we will continue to ensure that Detroiters are not forgotten as the city continues to rise.

We look forward to continuing our work with the Mayor and City Council, our board members, funders and many other partners, stakeholders, and other clients. We expect all those relationships to continue to be productive and grow along with Detroit’s economic future.

You can count on us to continue to deliver excellence.

Regards,

Glen W. Long, Jr. 
CFO/Interim President & CEO

DEGC Promotes Trade and Investment to German Companies

From: Peter Chapman, Executive Vice President, Business Development

The German American Chamber of Commerce hosted a trade mission here in Detroit last week, and I was there representing DEGC Business Development’s new focus on engaging foreign companies and helping local companies export goods and services more aggressively and strategically overseas.

The fifty-person delegation from Germany’s Niedersachsen region – home to Volkswagen, Continental and Airbus, as well as the world’s largest industrial trade fair, Hannover Messe – was led by the Minister of Economics for Lower Saxony, and largely consisted of executives from automotive/mobility companies, a key target sector for DEGC Business Development.

Through discussions and tours of the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) Institute, IAV Automotive Engineering, MCity and the UM Battery Lab, the delegates learned about future trends in mobility during their two-day visit. Ned Stabler, vice president for Economic Development at Wayne State University and TechTown CEO, and I also shared with them the history of Detroit and highlighted the exciting new projects underway in our city.

This was the first of several foreign development investment and export-related forums that DEGC will participate in or co-convene in 2017. It follows the highly successful trade mission to China we participated in last year with Mayor Duggan and Governor Snyder, where we inked a trade partnership agreement with the city of Shenzhen.

In addition to forging an important agreement that lays the foundation for further partnership of inbound investment and export activities, we came away from that trip with two or three viable business attraction leads.

We are keenly focused on China and will most likely do another trade mission this year. We’re also planning to support a second trade mission with Germany as well as one with Michigan Israel Business Bridge to assist in business to business export matchmaking.

With a sizeable grant from JPMorgan Chase, DEGC Business Development is promoting an understanding of global commerce throughout the organization and hiring the staff to enhance and manage our new global focus, which encompasses five key sectors:

  • Automotive/mobility, including companies like Sakthi Automotive Group, which is expanding and bringing new jobs to the city.
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Food
  • Health and medical
  • Emerging industries, particularly tech companies like our most recent win, Microsoft.

Sandra Choi is our new Foreign Direct Investment Business Manager who will work on these endeavors.

In addition, we’ll continue to cultivate our relationship with companies such as Sakthi to learn what attracted them to Detroit, what keeps them here and what growing pains they might have so that we can learn and share their story with other foreign companies considering an investment in Detroit.

Strengthening Detroit’s brand in the global marketplace to promote international investment and local export opportunities is a key component in Detroit’s continuing resurgence. DEGC Business Development stands ready to engage foreign companies and help local companies in their export efforts.

 

 

 

Riverfront Redevelopment is Real — and DEGC is Ready

Last week DEGC joined the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy (DRFC) and the City of Detroit to announce details of a framework plan that will preserve more of Detroit’s riverfront land for public use and create greater community access.

Highlights of the plan include:

  • Creating nearly eight acres of additional park space on the East Riverfront.
  • Increasing community through two new “Dequindre Cut” style greenways
  • Streetscape improvements to make E. Jefferson more attractive and bike and pedestrian friendly
  • Sale of publicly owned land through the release of RFPs

The plan has special significance for DEGC, because our involvement goes back more than fifteen years. DEGC staff, acting for the EDC, managed the creation of the 2003 East Riverfront Plan that envisioned the transformation of the district from obsolete industrial land to a mixed use of recreational, residential and other developments. DEGC’s project management role included work on sections of the RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut and Trail, the acquisition and demolition of cement silos, facilitating the adaptive reuse of the Globe Building and managing deals and site remediations that led to Orleans Landing, among many other projects.

All those activities required forging new collaborations with solid partners, such as the City of Detroit, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Riverfront Conservancy. We are very pleased that those and other partnerships are continuing stronger than ever. DEGC will continue to be a lead player in implementing the riverfront plan — starting with the release of a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the historic Stone Soap building. It’s incredibly exciting to see what’s in store, and we are grateful to be working with such great partners and stakeholders.

Use this link to download the Stone Soap RFPQ, or share the link page with others who may be interested in it.

Please take a look at the presentation of the Your East Riverfront Plan in the DEGC Reference Library.

Follow East Riverfront news at the dedicated website: YourDetroitEastRiverfront.org

The Free Press gave the story very good coverage in Thursday’s edition.