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Competition will explore new ways to move people around Detroit

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
A competition aims to pump more than $250,000 into Detroit to fund new ideas for the ways people will move around Corktown and the city. Ford Motor Co. is helping fund the project; its office building known as The Factory in Corktown is part of the automaker's expansion into the neighborhood.

A competition aims to pump more than $250,000 into Detroit to fund new ideas for the ways people will move around the city.

Ford Motor Co. and officials from Detroit and Michigan announced Thursday the City:One Michigan Central Station Challenge. It was spun out of Ford's work with the Corktown community last year to craft a community benefits agreement with the neighborhood surrounding the long-blighted Michigan Central Depot that Ford plans to spend $740 million to rehabilitate.

The building will be the centerpiece of a new Corktown campus where 5,000 Ford employees and Ford partners work on the automobiles and transportation modes of the future. Work there would include the company's autonomous vehicles business unit, electric vehicles and other future-oriented efforts, Ford has said.

Ford, city and state officials said Thursday that they'd open the challenge Aug. 28 for residents and local businesses to submit ideas focused on solving issues with the way people move throughout Corktown and the city. Officials will select 12 finalists and give them $6,500 each to develop a pilot program for their idea.

From there, Ford and the government officials will pick up to five winners to share a $250,000 grand prize "to bring those ideas to life early next year," said Aniela Kuzon, global lead on Ford City:One Innovation.

The program is funded in part by Ford and PlanetM, the state's mobility program. AT&T, Dell Technologies and Microsoft are also sponsors. The City:One program spins off Ford's City of Tomorrow challenge program which operated in several cities last year including Grand Rapids.

Residents there and in other cities piloted ideas for better medical transport systems and more efficient transportation, Kuzon said. 

The goal is to test whether ideas "really make a demonstrable impact" on residents' lives, she said. In Detroit, the officials hope the challenge spurs residents to find ways to make walking and biking more appealing, or to more people around the neighborhoods near the train station.

Those interested in participating can go to challenges.cityoftomorrow.com to sign up for a series of work sessions where participants will listen to mobility stories and start working on solutions, according to a statement.

The first community workshop will be held 5:30-8 p.m. June 26 from at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center at 2826 Bagley.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau