Pistons owner Gores aims to raise $10M for Flint

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

As awareness of the Flint water emergency spreads across the country and around the world, one of the city’s sons is making a significant financial commitment to help address the problem.

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores.

Pistons owner Tom Gores, who grew up in Flint, announced Thursday morning that he is spearheading a comprehensive private-sector campaign to generate a minimum of $10 million to aid in the crisis that has impacted more than 100,000 Flint residents.

Gores aims to tap corporate and civic leaders to help in providing short- and long-term support in economic development, nutrition and health care for Flint residents who have been exposed to lead-tainted water following a temporary switch from Detroit’s water supply to the toxic Flint River.

“The issues facing Flint won’t be solved solely through government intervention and emergency support,” Gores said in a prepared statement. “The private sector needs to play a role here, and I am committed to helping drive that effort. I grew up in Flint, my family has strong roots there and I believe in the people who live there.”

Gores, the chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity, has formed an internal task force — led by Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem and Platinum Equity partner Mark Barnhill — to garner support from the corporate community and to assess how and where to deploy needed resources.

The target amount of $10 million will come from personal contributions and benefits at Pistons basketball games and other Palace Sports & Entertainment concert venues. The venture also seeks to develop long-term economic-development programs such as small-business assistance, entrepreneurship and access-to-capital programs for businesses in Flint.

Gores also pledged to rally support from business leaders across Michigan and throughout the country to help in the effort, which has generated millions of donated bottles of water from celebrities, athletes and grassroots organizations.

“Families and children who live in Flint are suffering, but this is a national issue,” Gores said. “Flint was once a cornerstone of American industry that gave a lot to this country. We need help now, more than ever, and ask that people from coast to coast continue stepping up.”

Gores, a Michigan State University alumnus, purchased the Pistons in 2011. He founded Platinum Equity, a multi-billion-dollar global investment firm, in 1995.

Gores and his family moved to Flint from Israel when he was 4 years old and his father owned a grocery store, where Tom and his brothers often worked.