FROM: Malinda Jensen, Senior Vice President, Board Administration and Government 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.
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.
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.
Entrepreneurs, artists, techies and others looking for workspace in Detroit now have a one-stop resource to help them search for the perfect place for their endeavor, DEGC’s Detroit Co-Working Space Finder.
We knew many spaces were opening up for entrepreneurs and others here in the city, so we did the research through the web and word-of-mouth and created this directory. Now people looking for space can use the Detroit Co-Working Space Finder to pick the space that best fits their specific business needs.
There are many different workspace options, from shared table space to a desk to a full office and shared conference rooms. Many include wireless, tech support, office supplies and even coffee and snacks.
Several of the co-working sites are linked to specific causes or industries. For example, Department of Alternatives on Washington Boulevard is dedicated to entrepreneurs working full time on alternative, market proven solutions to civic and social issues that affect our community. NextEnergy Center on Burroughs Street serves as a living laboratory for advanced energy technology development and demonstrations. Ponyride on Vermont leases studio space to artists and entrepreneurs who engage the citizens of Detroit in their creative practices.
These co-working spaces offer more than just a place to work, they provide the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a community of people with the same interests.
“OCD is a hackerspace, a place we go to make, experiment, learn and share with an eclectic group of interesting, creative, friendly people,” is how OmnicorpDetroit on East Division describes itself.
Pricing options vary widely. Many spaces offer daily, weekly and monthly rates or a punch card system for regular visits. Some offer special rates for non-profits. Other spaces require people to complete an application for membership.
Inspired by his father, Michael Farrow founded Farrow Group, Inc. in 1998. As a native Detroiter, he prides himself on being hands-on with every aspect of the company because he loves his city and continues work to make it the dynamic place it once was.
Farrow Group is one of the largest demolition contractors based in Detroit. It maintains a large fleet of specialized machinery ideally suited for today’s complex demolition projects. Farrow’s skilled team is capable of performing very difficult projects efficiently, and can respond to emergencies on short notice.
Tell me about some of your current projects you’re working on?
Very recently we were called by the City of Detroit to do an emergency cleanup and demolition of a burned commercial building. It contained hazardous medical waste allegedly dumped illegally by a local businessman trying to save money at the expense of the environment and surrounding community. We made an initial cleanup at no cost to the City by selling the scrap material from the project. That’s a strong benefit of our “green” expertise and long experience in the demolition industry. We took the same approach as part of the team that demolished the former Tiger Stadium. We are very strong in recycling and in responding to emergency needs.
What do you find most exciting about the changing face of Detroit?
I love Detroit and I am excited about the changes that are taking place. The City of Detroit economy has been hit the hard in the past couple of years, but we know we can have revitalized neighborhood housing, retail centers, schools, and manufacturing plants. I am excited to have a role to play demolishing all abandoned structures that offer a safe haven for gang members, drug dealers and other criminals. That’s particularly important for members of the community who are constantly reminded of the eyesores and hazardous cautions that plague their city.
By demolishing these structures it leaves the city with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent affordable housing and attract new businesses. In addition, we are creating a safe and welcoming environment for students, residents and visitors alike. I know this cannot all happen overnight, but it can happen.
How do you want your company to impact Detroit in the long term?
In the long term, Farrow Group has the potential to greater serve the City of Detroit by improving the quality of living for countless individuals, particularly seniors and youth by removing blight and implementing programs and awareness that would create opportunities for them to excel in live.
We are also committed to protecting the public health and environment by reducing the amount of solid waste that goes to the landfills. That is why we are implementing a program to donate salvageable materials such as windows, doors, hardwood floors, cabinets, and HVAC units to nonprofit organizations. It will keep those items out of landfills.
What is your company culture?
Farrow Group has been blessed with a great group of skilled and dedicated team members who believe in the company’s vision and mission of giving back to the communities in which they live, work, and play. We take serious the responsibility that comes with being a contractor and leader in the communities we serve. In addition, we pride ourselves on hiring and training individuals that live in these communities.
That is why the Farrow Group business image and advertisement display the American flag and eagle. The flag represents the spirit and pride we have for country and fellow man and the eagle represents our endless efforts to soar high to achieve our goal of excellence in this industry.
What’s coming up for Farrow Group?
Growth. We are excited about what is happening in our city, state and surrounding communities, yet it is our goal to expand our operations throughout the United States.