Detroit — U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams was in Detroit on Monday to announce $4.1 million in grants to bring automotive manufacturing back to Detroit and job opportunities to its residents.
Williams was joined by Mayor Mike Duggan, Matthew Moroun and others at a northeast side manufacturing facility to announce the funding, stressing the federal government’s continued commitment to the city’s renaissance.
“Opportunity in Detroit is certainly something we don’t take for granted,” Williams said during a news conference held inside the LINC logistics facility off Georgia Street. “The president has made it very clear that the commitment to this city is unequivocal.”
The funding is coming to Detroit by way of two Economic Development Administration grants. The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and city were awarded $910,000 to support the hiring of an Economic Recovery Coordination Team to attract business, identify and prepare industrial sites, districts and areas.
The move, officials say, will help the city achieve its goal of creating 5,000 new jobs for Detroiters over the next five years.
Separately, a partnership between the city, growth corporation and Detroit Economic Growth Association helped secure an EDA investment of about $3.2 million to support the redevelopment and expansion of Georgia Street and a primary truck route for the 200-acre industrial park. Planning on the project will begin immediately. Construction is slated to begin in next spring and wrap up by the winter, officials said.
Mark Covington, a lifelong resident of the Detroit City Airport neighborhood, noted Monday that residents had been concerned over the impact of truck traffic from the industrial corridor. Residents, he said, are glad to be included in the process.
“We’re excited companies are engaging us and hearing what we have to say and our concerns,” said Covington, who operates a neighborhood garden for educating and occupying youths. “The community is really excited about the jobs coming to the neighborhood.”
The $30 million LINC logistics facility employs about 200 full and part-time workers, about 80 percent of whom are Detroit residents. The facility is across the street from the future Flex-N-Gate auto parts plant, a $100 million project at Detroit’s Interstate 94 Industrial Park that’s expected to create another 600 jobs.
Duggan said the corridor had been in the works for two decades, but little progress was made until two years ago. That’s when Moroun transformed the LINC site into the 500,000-square-foot warehouse for the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.
Flex-N-Gate announced its plans for a warehouse to supply parts to Ford Motor Co. last year. It’s slated to open in late 2017.
“We are now hiring Detroiters for good paying jobs with benefits here again in the city of Detroit,” he said, adding the grants help level the playing filed in the competition against the suburbs. “It’s tough competition and in Detroit we have a lot of old infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. That’s all we want is an equal shot at landing these companies and we will get more than our share as we’re proving.”
In 2013, the Obama administration assigned a team of federal employees to support Detroit’s recovery. The team focuses on projects in areas such as neighborhood stabilization, sustainability, workforce development, economic growth and international affairs, with a goal of providing technical advice.
“Beginning with the rescue of the auto industry, the Obama administration has steadfastly believed in Detroiters’ ability to rebuild,” Cliff Kellogg, executive director of the Detroit Federal Working Group, said in a statement. “With today’s announcement of another federal investment in Detroit’s infrastructure and staff, we are proud to continue our support of Mayor Duggan’s plans to restore the city’s manufacturing and industrial base.”
Last month, the city announced a program designed to train residents for careers in construction and skilled trades. The program is being developed by the Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., the city’s workforce agency.
The Grow Detroit’s Young Talent employment initiative found summer jobs this year for thousands of youths and young adults.
After years of struggle, Raven Harris landed a job at LINC in December. The tearful mother of two said Monday it’s transformed her life and she’s glad there will be opportunities for others.
“They treat me like they care about me. They appreciate me,” she said. “It couldn’t get any better for me.”