Jobs and the Downtown Events Center District

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One of the primary missions of DEGC is the creation of jobs for Detroit residents, so it naturally is an important consideration in the development of a transformational events center district in Downtown Detroit.

In the concession management agreement (CMA) Detroit Economic Growth Corporation negotiated on behalf of the Downtown Development Authority, Olympia Development agreed to hire Detroit residents as 51% of its construction workforce. That translates to more than 4,000 Detroit jobs as the event center is being built. Olympia also agreed to significant efforts to hire locally to operate the center. For instance, it will “maximize opportunities” to hire Detroit residents and Detroit-based businesses as suppliers. Olympia pledged to provide development and training opportunities and use local Detroit-based workforce training programs for referrals or targeted hiring. And finally, Olympia agreed to review its efforts in these areas with the DDA.

By a majority vote of elected officials, the Detroit City Council decided that those and other community benefit commitments that Olympia Development did make were sufficient, and that the City had adequate measures in place to enforce them. In a good collaboration all parties make concessions to get the deal done, and now it is done.

Furthermore, the jobs created by the event center are important, but are only a portion of the benefits of the total transformation that the Council has approved. As the $200 million of private development proceeds around the center, it will bring in more construction, businesses, and residents in a thriving community that will generate many more opportunities for Detroiters as well. That’s a good trade for $2.9 million in land that is the only asset the City of Detroit had to commit to this deal.

Our negotiations delivered the essentials for a project that will transform Downtown, generate jobs and tax revenues that will benefit the entire city, and make Detroit a must-see destination for fans of sports and entertainment. And we did it by meeting every requirement of the law and the highest ethical standards.

George W. Jackson, Jr.
President and CEO

Jackson to leave DEGC, form private consulting firm

Jackson departing DEGC

George Jackson announced last week that he’ll be leaving DEGC at the end of March to
form his own Detroit-based private consulting and development firm. Needless to say, all
of us here at DEGC are very disappointed about losing such a dynamic leader and a
caring CEO, but we know how passionate he is about the city and look forward to
working with him “from the other side of table,” as he puts it.

George has been the president and CEO of DEGC since February 2002. Prior to that, he
worked for 27 years at DTE Energy, rising to the position of Director of Customer
Marketing.

During the announcement of his resignation, George said, “I had a tremendous run at
DEGC working with great companies here and from around the world, and solid partners
in the private and foundation communities. I look forward to working with great partners
as we continue to transform Detroit into a leader of innovative urban redevelopment.”

Among the accomplishments of DEGC under his leadership, George is most proud of the removal of the cement silos along the Detroit River and the transformation of the riverfront from industrial to mixed use. Now everyone enjoys recreational access to the river.

Some of the many other successes DEGC achieved during George’s tenure include:

• The restoration and reopening of the Book Cadillac as the Westin Book Cadillac
Hotel.
• Innovative programs and incentives that relocated Quicken Loans to Detroit,
consolidated operations of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan here and led to the
re-concentration of technology and creative companies in Downtown and
Midtown, bringing in well over 10,000 new employees.
• The opening of Whole Foods Market – the first national grocery chain to open in
Detroit in decades.
• The largest retail development in more than 40 years, anchored by a Meijer
superstore.
• Steering the development and beginning implementation of Detroit Future City, a
comprehensive 50-year framework to help guide decision makers as they
revitalize the city with innovative approaches.

Everything was accomplished with an impeccable record of fiscal and ethical
responsibility, maintaining balanced budgets and clean auditing reports for DEGC and all
the public authorities it administers.

As the head of DEGC, George encouraged partnership and teamwork amongst the staff.
No matter your position within the organization, he was always willing to listen to
suggestions for improvements, ideas for new programs or just chat with his employees.
Not many employees can brag that they had a thirty-minute conversation with their CEO
about a golf game, their new house or the grand kids. George’s approachability, sense of
humor and demeanor made him more than just our boss; he is a friend.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it has truly been an honor and a privilege to work for
George over the last 12 years. All of us at DEGC wish him great success in his new
endeavor.

Tiffini Smith
Director, Corporate Communications

Former Councilman Ken Cockrel will lead Detroit Future City Implementation Office

Kenneth Cockrel, Jr.
Kenneth Cockrel, Jr.

Ken Cockrel has stepped out of his role as Detroit City Council member and into a new role as executive director of the Detroit Future City Implementation Office. Detroit Future City is an initiative to implement creative ideas to transform the city in a coordinated way through a well-researched strategic framework. Launched in early 2013, DFC has 36 pilot projects underway to address neighborhood stabilization, create new “green” infrastructure from underutilized land, and remove blighted structures by “deconstruction” rather than demolition.

“Detroit is at a pivotal moment in its history and the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework presents us with an exciting opportunity to rethink, reshape and rebuild our city,” said Cockrel. “I am honored to be able to continue serving the residents and neighborhoods of Detroit as we work with our partners to improve the quality of life in Detroit by carrying-out the recommendations of the Strategic Framework.”

With his experience as Council President and Mayor, Cockrel is uniquely qualified to work with all the stakeholders and collaborators that are using Detroit Future City to inform their efforts to revitalize Detroit.

As Cockrel takes on his new responsibilities leading the Implementation Office, Dan Kinkead will serve as Director of Projects; Heidi Alcock will serve as Director of Operations; and Carrie Lewand-Monroe will serve as Director of Policy. The Office has several dozen potential projects in planning stages aside from those already in progress. It also seated a steering committee of community, business, government, non-profit and foundation stakeholders to guide its work. Detroit Economic Growth Association remains the fiduciary for the Office, administering foundation support for its work.

For more information about the initiative, visit DetroitFutureCity.com.

Malik Goodwin
Vice President, Project Management 

On The World Stage

The Russian mayors have come and gone. The Chinese executives did the same. The contingent from Portland was very engaged. The columnists and bloggers from Chicago, London and elsewhere all found surprises. The New York Times seems to be “discovering” something interesting, tasty or cool in Detroit every few weeks. Time magazine explored the city for an entire year. In short, the world is making its way to Detroit, and it’s not because of some calamity or scandal, or even a big event such as a Super Bowl or International Auto Show. We are on a world stage right now because of hundreds of stories, successes and interesting people that all add up to a world-class transformation.

We’ve known that for quite awhile, because we are supporting it every way we can, but there is something satisfying about spending time hearing the interest from the Russian mayors, who were here because they represent one-industry cities that need to diversify their economies. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? While we talked with the Russians, Japanese public television was videotaping a story about W Industries, a company that successfully grew from auto supplier to advanced manufacturer in alternative energy, natural gas extraction, defense and aerospace.

The Chinese were here to consider business investments. They realize that Detroit is in the center of the greatest concentration of automotive research and development in the world. The constant re-invention of personal transportation is going on right around us every day.

Time magazine, of course wanted to witness bold moves from major players like Mayor Dave Bing and Quicken chairman, Dan Gilbert, but reporters from Time or its sister publications also covered entrepreneurial successes in our incubators, NextEnergy and Wayne State University’s TechTown. And they wrote about Detroit’s cheerleaders such as Slow’s Bar BQ’s Phil Cooley, City Living Detroit real estate broker Austin Black or I Am Young Detroit’s Mike Han.

As we are breaking new ground, we are also on the lookout for what we might learn from others. That’s why we have a delegate in Turin, Italy this month, reviewing the economic progress of the home city to Fiat.

The best news from all this buzz is that it is not too late to get into the game. We know of properties ripe for renovation or redevelopment, and we know the ways to support growth for startups or global companies. We have success stories, and if you are growing a business in Detroit we’d like to know yours. After all, the world is watching.

 

George W. Jackson

Jackson is president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, a non-profit organization that works with businesses, government and other organizations throughout Detroit to encourage and manage economic development projects.