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Federal grants aim to "re-industrialize" Detroit

Oct 3, 2016

Detroit’s efforts to “re-industrialize” are getting a boost from the federal government.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration is giving $4.1 million to the city of Detroit and its quasi-public economic development arm, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

A little over $3 million will be used to build up infrastructure in and around the long-stalled I-94 Industrial Park.

That site has mostly been vacant for more than two decades, after the city cleared a large swath of land  on its east side for the project in the 1990s.

Crown Enterprises is anchoring the site with the LINC logistics facility and warehouse for the nearby GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

Crown is the real estate arm of Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun’s business empire. It bought 40 acres of the site last year.

“This grant is a key investment in the park, and it’s going to bring us a lot of important and good neighbors to the I-94 park,” said Crown representative Matthew Moroun.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, whose administration has jump-started the I-94 project, says the ultimate objective is to “start bringing auto parts plants back from Mexico.”

The grant money will help prepare the rest of the site for other industrial development opportunities, and make surrounding transportation and shipping infrastructure better, Duggan said.

The city claims the site should eventually create “more than 600 new jobs and $120 million in private investment.”

The remainder of the money will pay to start up an “economic recovery coordination team” for Detroit, including someone who seeks out potential tenants for the industrial park, “so we can go continue to land more plants in this area, and continue to bring jobs to the part of the city that has the highest unemployment rate,” Duggan said.