Leadership Detroit Alumni Discuss Industry Needs for Detroit’s Next Decade

Leadership Detroit alumni shared their views on timely topics impacting Detroit’s next decade at the 2020 Detroit Policy Conference.


Changing the Culture of Workforce Development: 

Building Detroit’s workforce is essential for retaining and attracting business. This panel looked at FCA US LLC, a company that sees the talent shortage as a barrier to growth with their latest investments in Detroit, as a case study to consider how to approach workforce development.


Taking A Personal Stake in the Future of Detroit’s Education

How can Detroit’s education system become the asset that strengthens the economy? Community leaders discussed their expectations and apprehensions for the future and solutions to better navigate school systems.


Leadership Lessons Collaborating for Progress

Bridging the gap between business and grassroots leaders helps practice corporate sensibility. This session considered how to strengthen leadership through collaboration.


Measuring Detroit’s Comeback: The Detroit Revitalization Index

This session discussed Detroit Future City’s 2019 Revitalization Index as a way to measure the perceived impact of investment and economic activity in Detroit.


Small Business Development: Reaching The Next Plateau

Having a robust culture of small businesses will be a key factor of neighborhood growth in the next decade. This panel discussed the policy, financing, and talent needed to grow local business.


Corporate Support for a Reliable Regional Transit System

Businesses have the potential to have a large impact on improving regional transit. Regional leaders discussed how to support a connected system, the ROI of incentivizing public transit, and collaboration.

Mayor Duggan Hints at Another Term During Policy Conference in Detroit

January 30, 2020

Fox 2 Detroit

Charlie Langton

It was early on at a Detroit policy conference that Mayor Mike Duggan made a quip about any political ambitions for the future.

“You know, if the people of this city are as much behind me at the end of this year as they are right now, I would see doing this one more time,” he said.

Duggan, who was first elected in 2012 as the first white mayor of the majority-black city since 1970, has maintained strong approval ratings since his tenure began.

That bit of news was dropped at the Motor City Casino Wednesday morning, during a preview of the Mackinac Policy Conference, which is hosted every year in May.

That wasn’t all Duggan had to talk about, however. The mayor also brought up jobs and minority-owned businesses – specifically the ones over on Livernois Avenue.

“If you haven’t been to Livernois – you guys all covered Livernois when it was all dug up in mud – you outta go there this Saturday night,” he said.

In 2019, a stretch of road near 7 Mile on Livernois was completely torn up, its median was taken out and more sidewalk space was added. While businesses suffered at the time, most are hoping to see a return to success now that construction is complete.

“And I love to see the foot traffic, foot traffic to Detroit and business is very important,” said Christal Franklin, owner of CFranks.

Franklin said it was difficult to start a business due to finding funding and keeping customers engaged. But as she’ll tell anyone – she’s from Detroit.

“…because I’m a Detroiter and one thing about Detroiters, we hustle,” she said.

Franklin wasn’t the only business owner in attendance on Wednesday. Another was Moses Shepherd, of Ace Petroleum A, a national wholesale fuel distributor based out of the city’s west side.

“You got a lot of strong minorities out here having challenges with doing business with the city,” he said.

Also in attendance was Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter, who was pushing for more robust public transportation in the region.

“I think there’s almost nothing else more important that we could do as a region than to fix our transit issues,” he said.

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Dan Gilbert’s Still Making All The Big Decisions During Stroke Recovery

January 29, 2020

Detroit Free Press

JC Reindl

Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert is “getting out to the office a lot more” since his serious stroke last spring and remains involved in his companies, one of his top lieutenants told a chamber of commerce audience Wednesday.

“He’s still making all the big decisions,” Matt Cullen, CEO of Gilbert’s Bedrock Detroit real estate firm, said at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference.

Gilbert, 58, the founder of mortgage giant Quicken Loans, has made few public appearances since his stroke Memorial Day weekend.

Company officials recently hinted that he may attend a Feb. 21 event at MGM Grand Detroit to receive an honor from Crain’s Detroit Business.

Gilbert was not present at Wednesday’s chamber event at MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit, although Cullen said he was likely watching the presentations and panel discussions on a livestream.

Cullen’s presentation focused on the dramatic development progress in and around downtown Detroit since 2010, when Gilbert relocated Quicken Loans and its family of companies there.

“He made a commitment when he came down here,” Cullen said. “I think the next decade will reflect his continued involvement at the same level.”

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Hudson’s Site Skyscraper Will No Longer Be Tallest in Detroit

January 29, 2020

Detroit Free Press

JC Reindl

Rest easy, Renaissance Center. Dan Gilbert is no longer gunning for your title as tallest building in Detroit.

One of Gilbert’s top lieutenants said Wednesday that designs for the Hudson’s site skyscraper have changed and the tower — set to be completed in 2023 — will not stretch higher than the Renaissance Center.

The tower’s new planned height will likely not be finalized until Memorial Day, said Matt Cullen, CEO of Gilbert’s real estate firm Bedrock Detroit.

The tallest tower of the Renaissance Center stands 727 feet. The Hudson’s tower was planned to rise 912 feet.

“It will not be the tallest,” Cullen told reporters at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference at MotorCity Casino Hotel. “What we concluded is we wanted an iconic building … and the need to be the tallest wasn’t on our highest list of priorities anymore.”

Even with a non-record height, the Hudson’s site project is still the most ambitious downtown Detroit development in years.

The $909 million project calls for constructing a new block-long building, with the skyline-piercing tower rising from its southern side. The building will be located at the site of the old J.L. Hudson department store, which closed in 1983 and was imploded in 1998.

“It’s going to be a tremendously impactful and iconic building, and we are not as concerned with the height of it perhaps as others are,” Cullen said.

The tower will contain a mix of residences and hotel rooms, he said, and the operator of the hotel could also be chosen by Memorial Day. Decisions will also be made on whether the residences will be condos, for-rent apartments or a mix of both.

“A condo is a little bit different shape than an apartment,” Cullen said. “The hotel, depending on the brand, has different floor plates and would require different square-footage.”

Earlier Wednesday, another Bedrock official said there will be visible, street-level construction happening at the Hudson’s site by this summer.

The project broke ground in December 2017 but construction has been slow. Completing the project in 2023 would put it one year behind the original schedule.

Recently, construction crews began erecting two large cranes at the site, which is more or less still a big hole in the ground.

“We are ready to come up out of the ground this year,” Cullen said.

Monroe timeline

Cullen also gave an update Wednesday for another high-profile Bedrock project, the planned Monroe Block downtown.

The roughly $1 billion development was originally to open in late 2022. Monroe Block is still happening, he said, but will come after the design of the University of Michigan Innovation Center, which is situated off Gratiot Avenue at 1400 St. Antoine St.

Bedrock is developing the Innovation Center along with real estate mogul Stephen Ross. Construction of the Innovation Center is to start in 2021.

“I think the decisions as to what goes into those first two projects, the Innovation Center and Hudson’s, will start to inform what we should be designing and building from a programming standpoint at Monroe,” Cullen said.

Original plans for Monroe Block called for a new 35-story office tower, a new 27-story residential tower and a new 10-story development with residential and retail space.

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Hudson’s Site Tower Will Not Be Tallest in Michigan After All, CEO for Gilbert’s Bedrock Says

January 29, 2020

Crain’s Detroit Business

Kirk Pinho

The state’s tallest building is not under construction after all.

Envisioned at one point to be up to 912 feet tall, the development on the site of the former J.L. Hudson’s department store in downtown Detroit isn’t going to top the 727-foot Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center on the Detroit riverfront, said Matt Cullen, CEO of Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock LLC real estate company. The RenCen hotel is the tallest building in the state.

“It will not be the tallest,” Cullen said of the Hudson’s tower in response to a question from the Detroit Free Press. He said a determination will be made by June on the precise height as well as a hotel operator.

“I think what we concluded is we wanted an iconic building, we wanted to have a lot of characteristics relative to retail and public space and a world-class hospitality component and other things, and the need to be the tallest wasn’t on our list of highest priorities,” Cullen said.

Cullen’s revelation came following remarks and a question-and-answer session with Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, at the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday afternoon. Bedrock executives first hinted at the possibility that the Hudson’s tower may not be the tallest in the state last summer during a meeting with the media.

At the time of a December 2017 groundbreaking ceremony, the project was expected to be complete in 2022 and have 330-450 residential units; 103,000 square feet of retail, food and beverage space, plus a street-level market; 168,000 square feet of event and conference space; and 263,000 square feet of office space. Another 93,000 square feet of exhibit space was planned, along with at least 700 parking spaces in a below-ground garage.

The development, still a hole in the ground, is now anticipated to be complete in 2023. Kumar Kintala, director of development for Bedrock, said earlier in the day that the project is expected to reach ground level by the middle of this year.

The first conceptual rendering came in March 2015 when it was inadvertently leaked in a YouTube video discovered by the Detroit Free Press. Then, rumors began swirling about precisely how large the building would be, eventually with multiple sources confirming to Crain’s discussions of a building reaching 60 stories in October 2016.

By February 2017, the first incarnation of the plan was revealed, with a tower reaching 734 feet, eclipsing the RenCen Marriott by a mere 7 feet with a total cost of $775 million. In September 2017, another 66 feet were tacked on, bringing the tower to 800 feet, adding a public skydeck (since scrapped) and other features, which brought the project cost to $909 million.

A year later, in September 2018, Bedrock publicly confirmed it was considering an increase in the tower height to up to 912 feet, saying a decision would be made by January 2019 just how tall the building would be. However, to date, a final height has not been revealed.

The architecture firms on the project are Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates and New York City-based Shop Architects PC. The general contractor is Southfield-based Barton Malow Co.

The project is one of four Gilbert has underway that, at the time that a public incentive package was approved, totaled about $2.14 billion. Combined, they received a total of $618.1 million in so-called “transformational brownfield” tax incentives from the state.

The other projects are the $830 million Monroe Blocks project immediately east of the One Campus Martius Building, the $311 million redevelopment of the Book Tower and Book Building on Washington Boulevard, and the $95 million addition to the One Campus Martius building where Gilbert has his Quicken Loans Inc. headquartered.

The Book Tower/Book Building project is expected for completion in 2022 and the addition to One Campus Martius is under construction, expected to be completed this year. The design on the delayed Monroe Blocks project is now to finish by the middle of this year, bumped back from the first quarter as was envisioned in August.

Cullen said Bedrock is moving the Monroe Blocks project back in the development sequencing because of the planned Detroit Center for Innovation project announced in October with billionaire developer Stephen Ross, a Detroit native, as well as the University of Michigan. Bedrock expects to prioritize that project, which could top $750 million on the site that was to house the Wayne County Consolidated Jail, over the Monroe project.

“I think the decisions that go into those first two projects, the Innovation Center and Hudson’s, will start to inform what we are designing for Monroe,” Cullen said.

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Bedrock: Hudson’s Site Tower Won’t Be Tallest In The State

January 29, 2020

The Detroit News

Ian Thibodeau

Detroit — Dan Gilbert’s real estate arm, Bedrock LLC, is no longer planning on making the forthcoming Hudson’s site tower in the downtown the tallest building in the state.

The company confirmed Wednesday what Bedrock officials hinted at in August when giving an update of the site plan.

The original plans called for the $1 billion, 1.4 million-square-foot mixed-use development on the former Hudson’s site to be the tallest building in Michigan at around 912 feet tall. The development was set to be completed in 2022, which has since been pushed back to 2023.

The tallest building in Michigan is General Motors Co.’s Renaissance Center, which stands at 727 feet.

Bedrock CEO Matt Cullen confirmed the height reduction following an appearance at the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday, Crain’s Detroit Business reported. Bedrock spokeswoman Gabrielle Poshadlo confirmed the current plans won’t make the building the tallest in Michigan.

“I should reiterate that our focus isn’t on being the tallest,” Poshadlo said. “It’s on making it the most iconic development it can be.”

Bedrock has not revealed what the final height will be. The news comes roughly six months after Bedrock scrapped plans for an observation deck.

The company broke ground on the project in 2017. It’s expected to house a hotel, retail and other mixed-use space. In May 2018, Bedrock won approval for $618 million in tax incentives for the Hudson’s site and other downtown projects.

Cullen on Wednesday also addressed the continuing recovery of Gilbert, who is founder and chairman of Rock Ventures and founder and chairman of Quicken Loans. Gilbert suffered a severe stroke last May.

“He’s getting out to the office a lot more,” Cullen said. “He’s still making all the big decisions.”

“The next decade will reflect his continued involvement at the same level,” Cullen said, “and I think we’re going to all be better for that.”

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Michigan Central Station in Detroit to Add Fourth Building, Mobility Test Area, and Parks

January 29, 2020

DBusiness

R.J. King

During a presentation today at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference at the MotorCity Casino Hotel, Mary Culler, development director for Ford’s Michigan Central Station redevelopment, announced that the $744-million project will include a mobility test area behind the iconic train depot.

Showing a new site plan, Ford or one of its partners may add a building west of the train station, though no details of what the structure would be used for were offered. In addition, Ford plans to add an outdoor park between the station and the former Book Depository building (originally Roosevelt Warehouse), to be called The Triangle, as well as a Station Plaza in front of the train depot. The plaza will adjoin Roosevelt Park, which the city of Detroit plans to renovate.

In addition, the May Creek Greenway, a tributary that dates to the founding of Detroit by the French in 1701, which later was filled in to accommodate rail lines, will be converted into a landscaped trail similar to the Dequindre Cut east of downtown Detroit. The Greenway will be completed by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and connect the Corktown community to the upcoming Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park (west of the Riverfront Towers). The 22-acre park is scheduled to open in the next four year.

“We want to be a neighbor in Corktown and be inclusive to what’s already going on in the neighborhood,” says Culler, chief of staff to the Office of the Executive Chairman and president of the Ford Fund. “We remain on schedule, and it’s wonderful to see all the progress being made at the station.”

The 15-story train depot is set to reopen in late 2022 and offer stores, restaurants, and other retail offerings on the first floor, 11 floors of workspace for Ford workers and suppliers, and three floors of hospitality space at the top of the structure. Culler says the roof has been sealed and all of the water has been removed from the basement levels.

The Roosevelt Warehouse, which is scheduled to reopen next year, will include work space for Ford workers and its partners, a Maker Space and Showcase, along with a small theatre and other work spaces in the lower level. Nearby, Ford has renovated The Factory at the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Rosa Parks Blvd., where 250 workers are now working. A small museum where train station artifacts are displayed also is located in The Factory.

Culler says restoration of the depot includes cleaning, repairing, and replacing eight acres of masonry on the exterior of the building. To support the work, scaffolding now wraps around the west half of the 15-story tower.

A crane is on site and workers have started disassembling stone from around the Waiting Room entrance, which faces north toward Michigan Avenue, to allow craftsmen to fix the limestone façade and recreate missing and deteriorated ornate pieces — all part of Ford’s efforts to restore the Beaux-Arts building to its original grandeur.

To retain the historical integrity of the station, which first opened in 1913, the limestone blocks being used to replace the deteriorating stone on the façade will be sourced from the same Indiana quarry that provided the limestone during the original construction. Some of those early blocks of limestone still lie in a field a few feet from where they were first mined more than 100 years ago.

The Dark Hollow Quarry where the unique patterned limestone is found was officially closed in 1988. That grainy pattern fell out of favor with building projects in the 1920s. The remaining blocks of stone are now within a forest of 30-year-old trees. Local trades will construct a new haul road to access the stones and remove trees to get access to the historic material.

“It’s super exciting to use stone that was originally intended for the building,” says Richard Bardelli, Ford’s construction manager for the restoration project, who recently visited the Indiana quarry. “To come back to the same quarry where the first limestone was sourced from allows us not only an exact match in color and texture, but to maintain a strong connection to its storied past.”

In the early 1900s, the limestone was quarried by hand, with men using chisels and hammers; huge blocks of stone were transported by train to customers where it was carved on site. Today, the limestone is extracted and cut by machines, large blocks are moved by truck to regional fabricators and then shipped in its final shapes to the job site.

Michigan Central Station is one of many famous structures that has used Indiana limestone in its construction. Others include the Empire State Building, the National Cathedral, the new Yankee Stadium, the Pentagon and many state capitol buildings across the country.

Ford began the three-phase restoration project last year and plans to make the station the centerpiece of a new innovation hub in Corktown that will bring together new startups, established companies, urbanists, investors, innovators, and academic institutions to reimagine the future of transportation and make smarter, sustainable communities.

Before the stone is removed from Dark Hollow Quarry, workers will measure the blocks and look for other stone with the same pattern. Some might have to be extracted from the ground. The last time stone from the woods was used for another restoration project was eight years ago.

Beginning this winter, an estimated 8,000 cubic feet of the stone, approximately 300 blocks, will be shipped from the quarry in southern Indiana to Capital Stoneworks in Bridgeport, Mich. The company will take the raw stone and fabricate the replacement pieces needed for the train station.

The new stone will arrive in Detroit for installation in the spring 2020. Ford employs approximately 191,000 people worldwide.

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Ford Plans Mobility Testing Site Behind Michigan Central Station

January 29, 2020

Crain’s Detroit Business

Annalise Frank

Ford Motor Co. plans a vehicle testing site behind Michigan Central Station, the Corktown Detroit train depot the Dearborn-based automaker is redeveloping as part of a planned $740 million campus there.

Ford has discussed placing a testing ground at the train station’s old loading platform area in community meetings and included it in a new site map presented by Mary Culler, development director for Ford’s Michigan Central Station redevelopment, Wednesday morning at the Detroit Policy Conference at MotorCity Casino Hotel.

“We’re exploring that as the plan now … It’s in the framework,” Ford Corktown spokeswoman Christina Twelftree told Crain’s.

The formerly vacant, 505,000-square-foot depot is the centerpiece of Ford’s planned mobility district around Michigan Avenue that it expects to eventually employ 5,000 in 1.2 million square feet.

Last year Ford expanded autonomous vehicle testing to Detroit. And the automaker has previously described the Corktown campus as a location for trying out new mobility products. The testing ground would likely feature micromobility — a term used for e-scooters, electric bicycles and other small forms of transport — and autonomous vehicles. Twelftree said any formal decisions on its exact shape and use are forthcoming.

“There’s a huge amount of land back there” so testing there makes sense, Twelftree said. The site is more than 7 acres.

As shown in the site map, the Michigan Central Station redevelopment would also connect to the incoming Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park via a planned trail called the May Creek Greenway.

Phase 2

Culler also said Wednesday that Ford has finished the first phase of its $350 million redevelopment of Michigan Central Station: weatherizing and stabilizing the building. The automaker’s contractors have plugged the previously leaky structure’s holes and removed 650,000 gallons of water from its basement.

“Now we’re kind of in the exciting part, which is the actual renovation of the station, including all the masonry work, all the limestone and re-creating what was, frankly, there before,” Culler said.

The first Ford building to open in Corktown — after The Factory, where more than 200 Ford employees already work — will be the 273,000-square-foot former Detroit Public Schools book depository, planned as a workspace, office space and maker’s space, according to Culler. It is not a historic preservation project so it is “moving along more quickly,” Culler said.

‘Guiding principles’

The automaker also continues to tout its presence in Detroit as not just that of any developer, but a “neighbor” who will “make decisions that support equitable outcomes” and “contribute to an inclusive and authentic place,” according to a list of “guiding principles” presented by Culler on Wednesday. Ford is compelled by a community benefits agreement with the city to spend $5 million for education and workforce training programs, $2.5 million for a city revolving loan fund for real estate development and $2.5 million for affordable housing projects.

Outside that deal required for big real estate projects in Detroit, it remains to be seen how Ford’s rhetoric turns into action in the coming years. The train station is expected to reopen in 2023.

Institutions in Southwest Detroit have expressed concern over already rising prices in the area, affordable housing and how investments sparked by Ford’s plan could transform the region.

“So we’re trying to get ahead of all of that and working with the community on job training,” Culler said Wednesday, referencing impact on real estate prices, housing and jobs.

Asked if Ford or the Ford Motor Company Fund planned to fund any affordable housing outside its contributions under the community benefits agreement with the city, Culler said “it’s early days to say that, but … there’s no doubt that we will continue our longstanding tradition of supporting community and we’re working with the community on what those programs should be.”

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Coulter ‘Optimistic’ a Regional Transit Solution Could Come in 2020

January 29, 2020

The Detroit News

Christine Ferretti

Detroit — Oakland County Executive David Coulter on Wednesday made the case for greater regional cooperation, stressing with legislative action, a mass transit solution could be achieved this year.

“I believe that the factors that have held us back for decades, frankly, the rhetoric and sometimes even that complacency, no longer exists,” Coulter said during a keynote address at the 2020 Detroit Policy Conference at MotorCity Casino Hotel.

A proposal aimed at restarting talks for expanding transit in southeast Michigan is under debate in the Legislature, gaining bipartisan support in the Senate, Coulter noted.

“I’m optimistic if we can get this legislation done in the next couple of weeks in Lansing, and again, working with our regional partners, I believe that we can have a transit solution that will benefit everyone in this region this year,” Coulter said.

Coulter, a Democrat, shared his view on regional cooperation, including mass transit, which he noted, in some respects, goes against that of his predecessor, the late Republican former Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who died in August while serving his seventh term.

Coulter, during the event hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber, said Metro Detroit communities have to get on the same page and work together to attract and retain businesses and residents.

“We have a brain drain going on here, and I’m not saying the transit issue is the silver bullet, but it is a piece of what our young people, seniors and workers are looking for to make sure that we are as attractive as those other regions because I believe that we are,” he said.

Coulter has been among the Metro Detroit leaders supportive of legislation introduced last year aimed at restarting plans for expanding regional transit in southeast Michigan.

The former Ferndale mayor announced in October that he was making a bid to hang on to the county’s top post in the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, legislation by Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance, would allow for a regional transit agreement between Detroit and Washtenaw, Wayne and Oakland counties ahead of a ballot proposal in which the counties would ask voters to approve a property tax increase to fund the agreement.

The bill also would change how the counties approve a tax plan to put it on the ballot, potentially making it easier to do so.

Past plans encountered opposition from Patterson and Democratic Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel because a majority of Regional Transit Authority board members — from areas such as Wayne and Washtenaw counties and Detroit — could set spending plans over the objections of the minority.

Hackel on Wednesday said he’s apprehensive of the unintended consequences of changing legislation and doesn’t believe it’s necessary.

“I tend to look at what we’ve got now,” said Hackel, noting his county is the only one that’s been all-in on a regional SMART millage for decades, first asking countywide voters to support it via a ballot initiative in 1995.

“All (of the counties) could decide to opt-in for full connectivity,” he said. “Why aren’t you first fixing that problem of connectivity and then going to various communities and see if you want to partner on something more extraordinary — whatever that might be — for transit.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan have promoted RTA expansion tax increase plans.

A regional 20-year, 1.2-mill property tax increase was narrowly defeated by voters in 2016. A 2018 plan to put a new, $5.4 billion, 1.5-mill tax on the 2018 ballot also fell short.

Coulter on Wednesday called the 2016 ballot measure a “good foundational plan” but noted it failed in Oakland County.

In the county, he noted, 40% of the workforce commutes from elsewhere for work and 18% commutes to Wayne County. Additionally, about 9% of the county’s households do not have vehicles.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time figuring out why did it fail,” he said. “What other value could we bring to this plan that helps more voters see that. We’ve been working diligently on that, meeting with people all over the county … trying to find out what can we do to enhance that plan so that it is a greater value to Oakland County.”

Any potential tax revenue would go to the RTA — which already is the designated recipient of federal transit funds — and then be distributed to existing local transit systems, such as the Ann Arbor Area Transit Authority, the Detroit Department of Transportation and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART.

Metro Detroit officials have argued for years over how to fund and advance expanded mass transit under the RTA, which was created with legislative approval in late 2012.

The vision was for a transportation system that would link Detroit and Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw counties through a regional transit system that included a commuter rail line and rapid bus transit.

Patterson backed the formation of the authority, but along with Hackel, had issues with proposals to run and finance such a system.

Among other things, Patterson argued there should be protections for taxpayers in communities that opt-out of the system and that Oakland County was funding too much of the system while getting too few benefits.

Hackel has said the county would not be forced into any regional plans.

Macomb County and sections of Oakland and Wayne counties already use the SMART bus system.

Sheppard’s bill would amend the 2011 Municipal Partnership Act, which allows local governments participating in a “joint endeavor” to levy a property tax of not more than five mills for a given collaboration.

The legislation would clarify existing law to ensure counties could bring a proposal to the ballot through a vote of the board of commissioners, rather than through resolutions of support from each community within the county.

Coulter on Wednesday also touted his county’s reputation as an “economic powerhouse” in Michigan, with half a billion in economic investment last year in Oakland County.

The regional communities need to focus less on competing against one another, and more on other parts of the world, he said.

“I’m really enthusiastic about what we can do together as a region,” Coulter said. “I’m done with these artificial boundaries.”

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Duggan Urges Participation in Census, Celebrates GM Plant

January 29, 2020

The Detroit News 

Christine Ferretti

Detroit— Mayor Mike Duggan is continuing his call for residents to step forward this spring and be counted in the 2020 Census, a response that sets the city’s long-term trajectory.

“Our representation, our funding for the next decade matters,” Duggan said. “We’re saying to everybody, ‘fill it out honestly.’ And where you sleep at night April 1, don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m a Detroiter.'”

The mayor covered the importance of the Census turnout, neighborhood revitalization and General Motor Co.’s newly announced plans for Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly during a 30-minute talk with Dennis Archer Jr. at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday at the MotorCity Casino Hotel.

Detroit is in the midst of an aggressive $1.7 million campaign to boost response rates.

In 2010, only 64% of households submitted their forms prior to the U.S. Census Bureau sending out doorknockers, the lowest of any major city.

Duggan estimated the poor response cost the city about $300 million over the last decade, and he said Wednesday that the average person who isn’t counted amounts to a loss of about $18,000 to schools and other programs.

The mayor also celebrated plans formally unveiled this week by GM for a $2.2 billion plan at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly. The site last year had been targeted for closure but instead will become the automaker’s first fully dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant.

Duggan said Wednesday that automakers are making a big bet on the cars of the future and he urged General Motors CEO Mary Barra to do that here.

“GM absolutely believes in the future,” Duggan told Archer. “I am just really pleased with the fact that they changed course and they made the investment here.”

Duggan, a Democrat, also discussed the importance of the upcoming presidential election and said he’s “campaigning hard” for Vice President Joe Biden.

There have only been two times in the last 50 years, he said, when there was a Democrat in Lansing and Washington, D.C. That type of alignment would allow for a meaningful urban agenda.

“If we could get that alignment,” he said, “the next term as mayor could be a historic time.”

The Duggan administration also is continuing its push to create more vibrant neighborhood districts.

The mayor gave an overview of the $17 million streetscape improvements along the Avenue of Fashion. The project to widen the sidewalks, add bike lanes and improve a 1.5-mile stretch of roadway began in May and wasn’t without construction pains for businesses.

“We put $17 million into that streetscape … this is the kind of city we’re trying to build,” he said.

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