Ford Resumes Construction on Michigan Central Station Development

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Amid the COVID-19 virus hitting Detroit, Ford Motor Company had to bring construction on the Michigan Central Station Development to a halt. Mary Culler, chief of staff, Office of the Executive Chairman; president, Ford Motor Company Fund; and director, Michigan Central Station Development, spoke with Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah in today’s Tele-Town Hall to update the business community on how Ford has pivoted its strategy in Corktown due to COVID-19.

Teamwork at its Best

“What I’ve always noticed about Ford is we are the best when our backs are against the wall,” said Culler. “Our team really threw themselves [into] not only to figuring out how to manage that aspect of the business but really then seeing how we can help the country.”

When the number of COVID-19 cases turned serious in Michigan, Ford was answering requests from hospitals like Henry Ford and University of Michigan for personal protection equipment (PPE) needs like N-95 masks and ventilators. Culler participated in some of these phone calls and was impressed by how quickly the team rallied to jump in.

Ford has since scaled back its manufacturing of PPE, noted Culler, but is still producing ventilators. And since May, Ford has seen an increase in vehicle sales which remain strong with its popular vehicles.

Mobility District in the Works

The Michigan Central Station Development in Corktown represents Ford’s vision for the future of mobility for both Detroit and Michigan as well as the company, said Culler. Even though the project had to shut down for seven or eight weeks due to COVID-19, Culler said this won’t cause a significant impact other than to the schedule. Ford still projects the project’s completion in 2023.

However, Ford had to delay the Book Depository’s completion by six months. The good news is that construction has resumed on-site.

Once the Corktown innovation district is completed, Ford plans on bringing in partner companies in mobility into the space to develop and test mobility technology. The area will have retail spaces and offices in the Book Depository.

Culler described why she’s passionate about mobility and its place in Detroit.

“I’m a big believer that transportation is a huge opportunity,” said Culler. “Mobility is the number one way to get people out of poverty. If you can get somebody to school or a job, it can make a huge difference.”

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