The Detroit News
Sandy K. Baruah and Patrick J. Devlin
June 28, 2022
Business and labor do not always see eye to eye. But we stand united when it comes to supporting game-changing infrastructure and development projects that create thousands of family-wage construction jobs today, support thousands of new jobs across multiple sectors tomorrow, and create a vibrant sense of place in the core of the greater Detroit region. Make no mistake — the successful completion of the transformational Hudson’s Site development is absolutely critical to our region’s future and the business and labor communities stand in solidarity behind this project.
For the last decade, Detroit’s story has been one of remarkable growth. We continue to capture the world’s imagination for our resilience, diversity, and innovation. Of course, much more work remains, especially in increasing economic mobility and in providing Detroiters opportunities for the careers of today and tomorrow. Accomplishing this critically important work is only possible when there are more opportunities for jobs and when the city’s economy continues to grow.
This work will be set back, perhaps irreversibly, if Detroit’s signature development becomes stalled, incomplete, or is not allowed to reach its full potential. The message that decision would send to the development and investment community would reverberate across the region and the country.
In the last decade, tremendous strides have been made to repurpose buildings and historic sites that had fallen fallow. Imagine the signal a rejection of this project would send about where Detroit stands on welcoming and supporting investment, let alone the impact on the future of Michigan’s iconic central city. Imagine the devastating impact a suspended or scaled-down Hudson’s Site would have on Detroit’s reputation and morale — just as we emerge from COVID-19 and must make our central cores once again dynamic.
Detroit remains Michigan’s image to the country and the world. As we compete nationally and globally for investment, the Hudson’s site is the ultimate symbol that Detroit remains on the rise and is reaching new heights. We must not send the exact opposite message.
The importance of the Hudson’s site project lies not only in its symbolism and future economic impact, but also in the jobs and careers being created today. The team behind the Hudson’s site project has used the opportunity to ramp up training and recruitment efforts over the last several years, leveraging the momentum from the project to promote jobs in the skilled trades. This effort is a true testament to the commitment made by the unions affiliated with the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, as well as Bedrock and its contractors, to creating economic opportunity for Detroit residents through lasting careers in the skilled trades.
What’s missing from the debate around this issue is that the very tax incentive package before City Council today is what was approved by the City Council and mayor in 2017. All that is needed by council now is to simply codify the agreement to which they previously agreed — and which the project’s financial feasibility relies upon.
By doing so, the city preserves its reputation for honoring its commitments, stands with the skilled trades, and ensures the entire city benefits from the tax base generated by the new office, residential, shopping, dining, and experiences at this new signature development. Of course, in the absence of this tax abatement, the specific property taxes at issue would be captured by the city’s Downtown Development Authority and could only be used for other downtown projects.
Finishing the new Hudson’s site development is a win for Detroit and Detroiters and for our economy into the next generation. Business and labor don’t always agree — but we do on this.
Sandy K. Baruah is president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Patrick J. Devlin is secretary and treasurer at the Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council.