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Why a new international border crossing is good for business

Jul 19, 2018

From Kevin Johnson, President and CEO

Bringing investment and economic growth to Detroit starts with highlighting our unique advantages. One of those advantages is Detroit’s immediate access to the Windsor-Essex region of Ontario, Canada, which opens cross-border business opportunities and serves as a gateway to the world. Detroit is the largest city on the U.S.-Canadian border and Canada is Michigan’s largest export market. Furthermore, the fluid movement of skilled workers is an essential resource to the region’s employers. Both the state and region can realize tremendous lift by reinforcing this geographic advantage.

Nearly $500M in commercial goods crosses the Windsor-Detroit border every day. Over 7,500 workers commute across the border daily, most notably highly specialized medical staff who provide care to Detroiters within our hospital system. As we grow our U.S.-Canada effort to attract new investment into the region, we must ensure that goods and people move efficiently and securely, especially for our major employers who rely on complex supply chains and diverse human capital. It is critical that we boldly facilitate additional cross-border infrastructure for the Windsor-Essex region and Detroit/Southeast Michigan region.

Staying ahead of the innovation curve is critically important for our region, as is creating seamless border travel. Our continued economic development depends on investing in new infrastructure solutions. To increase our success as a region, we must increase our border-crossing capacity.

Above all, constructing a new U.S.-Canada bridge is about generating economic opportunity. Despite any debate, the facts are unassailable: the Ambassador Bridge is over capacity and in need of repair. Our national security and the stability of our region’s commerce depend on the diversification of our transportation options. That includes providing multiple crossings, as well as backup systems that minimize disruptions of any kind.

The new bridge will further this efficiency by providing the most technologically advanced border crossing in the world. Through both the bridge design, and applying advancements in mobility technologies, the bridge and ports of entries will provide for efficient movement of goods and people, thus enhancing productivity and quality of life for those throughout the region.

The DEGC is proactively working to ensure that the decisions made to improve our trade capacity benefit Detroit and Detroiters. A critical factor is fully capturing the development value a new crossing presents. We’re focused on transforming the traditional crossing experience to allow for commerce inside of Detroit – rather than just creating a bypass that adds no benefit for the city. We’re also committed to making sure Detroit residents benefit from the value created by this transformative investment. City officials and residents have worked hard to secure a community benefits agreement and non-motorized connectivity to ensure the bridge supports its host communities.

Our team is meeting with Windsor partners to study the impact of new crossing alternatives on traffic, the environment, job creation, revenue, and quality of life for our residents. Direct access to an international border crossing is a major value proposition that few cities can claim. By actively participating in the planning process, DEGC will position Detroit’s access to Canada as an asset to attract new investment, talent and other resources.

Our region is known for partnerships: between government and private industry, automotive and technology companies, and between the two great countries we represent. Bi-national collaboration is the cornerstone of our region’s economy. As leaders, we must look beyond what separates our two countries, and instead embrace what unites us. The world’s fastest-growing urban regions are highly connected, cross-border communities. Through construction of a new bridge, and deepening our connections with Windsor-Essex, we will provide Detroit with unrivaled competitive advantages among global cities.

Border Crossing Fast Facts

  • Jobs and investment. Development around the bridge footprint in Detroit is projected to yield up to 2,500 new permanent jobs, 6,000 construction jobs, and $500M in new private investment in Detroit.
  • Cross-border traffic. Limited capacity of the current bridge chokes the U.S. export market and creates congestion issues. Without the bridge, the region is predicted to lose as many as 39,000 jobs due to congestion by 2035.
  • Environment and health benefits. Diversifying border crossings will redirect truck traffic from surface streets, mitigate local air pollution, and reduce environmental hazards in Southwest Detroit. Other design features are being incorporated to reduce noise pollution and harmful local impacts.
  • Linking logistics assets. Connecting cross-border traffic to the U.S. freeway system, Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal, and Port of Detroit will create a first-of-its-kind nexus of intermodal transfer, leading to long-term competitive advantages for our city.

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