Ford Motor Company Fund Opens New Center in Southwest Detroit

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Bill Ford, Mayor Dave Bing and others during ribbon cutting on new community center. (WWJ/Jon Hewett)

Bill Ford, Mayor Dave Bing and others during ribbon cutting on new community center. (WWJ/Jon Hewett)

DETROIT — A vacant former business incubator in Southwest Detroit has reopened as the Ford Resource and Engagement Center.

The center is intended as a community gathering space for residents to develop new talents, learn new skills and obtain needed services.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) executive chairman Bill Ford and Detroit mayor Dave Bing were on hand to open the doors of the new center and participate in the community celebration.

In an unusual move by a corporate foundation, Ford Fund is overseeing management of the new center and funding physical upgrades, maintenance and all operating costs for the building, which is under long-term lease.

“Next month we mark the 150th birthday of Henry Ford, whose unique vision not only made personal transportation affordable, but left a lasting impact on communities where his employees and customers lived,” says Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Co. Fund and Community Services. “Ford Motor Company has been making investments in Detroit for more than a century, and today’s opening of the Ford Resource and Engagement Center demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the city.”

The Mexicantown Mercado building has been unused in recent years. Starting this month, it is home to a Gleaners client choice food service hub, and a range of other services and programs, including:
* A variety of bilingual services from LA SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development)
* Job assistance from SER Metro for Detroit Jobs for Progress
* Income tax preparation from Accounting Aid
* Anti-bullying training from Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan
* Dance and art classes from Living Arts
* Performing arts training from Mosaic Youth Theatre
* University classes offered by University of Michigan and University of Detroit

The new center is the centerpiece of a $10 million, five-year initiative in the city of Detroit, which augments Ford Fund’s ongoing community partnerships and support for southeast Michigan nonprofits that totals $60 million over the past five years alone.

The initiative also includes funding for:
* Youth programs at Patton Recreation Center including a summer camp
* Two Ford F-Series chassis for use as ambulances in Detroit, and funding for police cars
* Detroit Summer Youth Employment program

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