Detroit's workforce development chief to also lead economic development efforts

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Nicole Sherard-Freeman, head of Detroit’s workforce development and job training, will soon also lead the city’s economic development efforts.

Sherard-Freeman has been named group executive for jobs, economy and Detroit at Work starting Jan. 1. She takes on the additional duties after Nick Khouri retires at the end of December as group executive for the Jobs and Economy Team.

Nicole Sherard-Freeman

"The incredible success of Detroit at Work under Nicole's leadership has become our most effective selling point from an economic development standpoint," Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement Monday. "Major corporations are looking at Detroit now as a great place to locate based on the strength of our workforce and our ability to produce a list of outstanding job candidates. Bringing workforce and economic development under the same leadership will provide major job creators with a seamless process for locating in Detroit and finding qualified residents to build their workforce."

The city credits Sherard-Freeman in leading the workforce effort that resulted in 4,100 Detroiters being hired so far for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's new Detroit Assembly Complex. According to the city, her expanded role will will not only involve staffing major employers, "but also attracting them to the city based on the strength of the city's workforce."

"There’s no better time to be intentional about aligning workforce and economic development,” said Sherard-Freeman. “We were making tremendous strides on both fronts before COVID-19. As we enter the next phase of the pandemic’s economic impact, officially leveraging one for the other will be key to measurable, sustainable economic recovery for the city.”

Last year, Sherard-Freeman was named Duggan's executive director of workforce development and Detroit at Work. Prior to that she served as president and CEO of the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, the city’s workforce development agency since 2017. 

Nick Khouri

Khouri retires after helping to secure Detroit City Council approval for the sale of land at the Michigan State Fairgrounds for a $400 million Amazon distribution center expected to begin construction next month.

Khouri said that the Amazon deal was his main goal when he accepted the position in January. He was state treasurer from 2015- 2018 under the administration of former Gov. Rick Snyder.

"Thanks to Nick’s efforts the State Fairgrounds will be put back to productive use generating needed tax revenue for the city and 1,200 new jobs will be created just in this first phase of the redevelopment,” Duggan said.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN