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Program Offers Cash Incentives To Live Downtown

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(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Employees of five downtown-based companies are being given financial incentives to live where they work.

DTE Energy’s Paul Hillegonds says the trend is already there, with a number of young professionals and creative types hanging their hat in downtown Detroit lofts and apartments.

Now, the plan is to create greater density in surrounding neighborhoods, but not just for the younger set.

“We have a number of probably empty-nesters, but also a number of retirements ahead with younger people who will be coming to work in Detroit at DTE headquarters,”  Hillegonds told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Ron Dewey.

“And I think we’re going to see growing interest in living in Detroit,” he said.

Blue cross Blue Shield President CEO Dan Leopp thinks the program will work.

“Our first application came in via email at 10 a.m., and we’ve already gotten about a half-a-dozen phone calls. So, I think clearly I believe the demand is there,” Leopp said.

Blue Cross is offering incentives to their employees to buy or rent downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. It’s a seed program to attract more development and more people to the city.

In the five-year, $4 million “Live Downtown” program, first-time home buyers will get a $20,000 forgivable loan. Renters will get a $2,500 first year allowance, and $1,000 the following year. Employees who already own a home in the city will be given up to a $5,000 grant for exterior improvements.

“Everything is market, and if you’ve got bodies and you’ve got volume, it’s gonna attract business, it’s gonna attract retail. You’ve gotta have that density and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Loepp said.

Other companies taking part are  Compuware, Quicken Loans and Strategic Staffing Solutions.

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