A new arena and events center for the Detroit Red Wings will benefit all Detroiters, Harris writes. (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)
The Detroit City Council has shown effective leadership by listening to the community’s call for accountability and transparency of the $650 million arena and entertainment project that could be a substantial boost for Detroit's economy. The state of Michigan is funding the $450 million dollar arena, with the developer responsible for the additional $200 million in development surrounding the arena. Olympia Development of Michigan has agreed in principle to the formation of Neighborhood Advisory Council to receive input on the project. The Red Wings Events Center will create 8,300 construction jobs, of which 51 percent will be filled by Detroiters. In addition, a minimum of 30 percent of the construction contracts will be awarded to Detroit-based and Detroit-headquartered businesses.
Detroit can benefit from neighborhood participation and inclusion, becoming a model city for diversity, which could be attractive to businesses looking to relocate from other states. I think the Ilitches realize the opportunity, and have a history of ensuring diversity.
A city devastated by blight and full of vacant lots could receive a serious face lift with Detroit’s planned business and entertainment district. Detroit taxpayers have put skin in the game and deserve to benefit from the partnership, but we can’t underestimate the Ilitches’ commitment for 46 years and investment of $367 million dollars toward the project. The Olympia Development and Entertainment groups have a proven track record in providing sports and entertainment, garnering national recognition. Detroit needs to become the entertainment hub and travel destination of the Midwest; this project is almost certain to set us on that path.
Detroiters want accountability. With the new neighborhood advisory council and prospective representatives from each district, Detroiters have buy-in on the potential for accountability and full transparency over the project in what could be a win-win for the city of Detroit and its future.
Ken L. Harris, president/CEO, Michigan
Black Chamber of Commerce