Detroiters to get first dibs at new Fiat Chrysler jobs
Detroit — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pledged to give Detroiters a first chance at jobs at the upgraded Jefferson North Assembly Plant and expanded Mack Avenue Engine Complex as a part of a community benefits agreement residents approved this week.
In addition to the $2.5 billion the automaker plans to invest into the east-side facilities that are expected to create nearly 5,000 jobs, FCA will invest $13.8 million into workforce training, education, housing and neighborhood revitalization under the agreement still subject to City Council approval.
The city also will spend more than $17 million on similar initiatives and infrastructure, and $4 million would come from federal and state sources.
Detroit residents will have the opportunity to apply in July for open production positions in advance of the general public. Job fairs and kiosks would focus on helping residents in the surrounding neighborhood apply.
"Detroiters are going to get the first crack at these jobs. They are going to apply for and be selected for these jobs first," said Arthur Jemison, the city's director of housing and revitalization. "These jobs put a person on the path to middle-class life in our city. They’re jobs where everyday Detroiters have a real chance to come in and win those wages immediately after training."
The city expects to have the final community benefits agreement written Friday for submission to City Council next week, said Tim Carroll, deputy communications director for the city of Detroit.
The company said in a statement that it looks "forward to working with the community to realize the full potential of this proposal." The largest portion of FCA's community contribution is $5.8 million to job screening and training led by the city's workforce agency Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. starting in July.
Frank Bach, a 40-year resident of the Jefferson Chalmers area, said he was pleased with the job training and employment portion of the agreement.
"It's appreciated that they're doing something," he said, though he added he would have liked to see more long-term funding for home rehabilitation. In the projects' impact area there are stretches of blocks with vacant and abandoned houses. "I'm glad people are talking about it. It gives us an opportunity to get started."
The automaker will create an automotive manufacturing co-op with the Wayne County Community College District for an associate's degree that combines academic coursework with one to two days of paid job experience per week.
An additional $1.5 million from FCA will support the Manufacturing Career Academy at Southeastern High School and Grow Detroit's Young Talent to fund summer jobs for young people in the surrounding area. Another $500,000 will go to Detroit Promise to fund college scholarships for young people in the neighborhood.
The city also will contribute $4 million to Detroit at Work's job training and readiness programs, Grow Detroit's Young Talent and Detroit Promise for residents in the impacted zone.
- FCA will provide $1.8 million in housing-repair grants for owner-occupied homes. Applications will be made available in August.
- A wall along Beniteau Street will create a barrier between the plants and be adorned with ivy and a mural. FCA also will care for a stormwater-resistant pond, install drought-resistant landscaping and plant 200 trees.
- The city will invest $7 million into traffic calming and road improvements, including speed cushions, paving roads, sidewalk improvement, re-timed traffic lights and dedicated turn lanes.
- The city also plans $5.9 million for 300 demolitions of vacant city-owned structures over the next three years starting along Beniteau Street in February.
- Neighborhood revitalization projects will receive $800,000 from FCA.
- The automaker will work with the community to develop a marketing campaign for the neighborhood and invest $300,000 in paid local media.
The plan for FCA to build Detroit's first assembly plant in three decades, however, hinges on the city obtaining the 200 acres of land surrounding the complex. In February, Duggan agreed to a deal with the automaker to assemble the property in 60 days. The deadline is Saturday, and the city declined to comment on how much property is left to acquire.
"We will be working up until the deadline," Jemison said. "We’re all working on it. We’re making progress."
FCA also is requesting incentives from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for the $6.5 billion it is investing into five Michigan plants. The details are being finalized, Otie McKinley, the development corporation's communications manager, said in a statement. The incentive package is expected to go before the Michigan Strategic Fund Board for approval in the coming months.
In September, Corktown residents approved a community benefits agreement with Ford Motor Co. for its $740 million, 1.2 million-square-foot campus in the neighborhood, including Michigan Central Station. The Dearborn automaker committed to $10 million for workforce training, affordable housing and neighborhood investments. It requested $238 million in tax breaks.
Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.