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