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Feds: Obama Wants Aggressive Effort In Detroit

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(credit: George Fox/CBSDetroit)

(credit: George Fox/CBSDetroit)

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DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr called it an “unprecedented day in the history of Detroit” as he stood with a cadre of local, state and national officials announcing a plan for the city to utilize $300 million in public and private funds.

Blight, public safety, transportation and information technology are the key areas where money and energy will be placed, he added.

“We knew this was an exceptional circumstance, it deserved an exceptional response,” said White House National Economic Council director Gene Sperling.

While a federal bailout isn’t on the table, administration officials said their focus is on collaborating with city government and local partners to leverage federal resources. Don Graves will be placed by the administration in Detroit to be Obama’s point person, Sperling announced.

“So many of the announcements today come because of things we’ve heard from the last couple of months … We are responding, we are listening, and we are going to do everything that we can, that we’re capable of,” Sperling said, adding the president has directed an “aggressive effort” in Detroit.

“This president is committed to the future of Detroit, we believe this will be the greatest comeback story in the history of American cities,” said Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.

Donovan added they’ve heard over and over from community leaders that fighting blight has to be a top priority, adding the feds are bringing $150 million in resources to bear to battle blight. A task force will be created, tasked with putting together a plan to tear down abandoned buildings.

“Most importantly, there is $65 million in community development block grant funds,” he said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a number of grants meant to make Detroit safer; and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced an influx of $30 million into the city’s transportation system.

“There are far too many people … who are having trouble with reliable bus service,” Foxx said, adding $24 million will be invested into new security cameras, and rehabbing ailing buses. Another $6.4 million will be put into creating a plan for a regional transit system, he added.

Snyder, a Republican, said the public sector can be a key catalyst to making Detroit grow again.

“It’s all how about ‘how do we give better services,’” Snyder said, adding a round of thanks to the White House for bringing money and “people resources.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow says this is an important day for Detroit.

“It wasn’t the right administrative structure, or got caught in the bureaucracy … whatever it was — there’s an all hands on deck [mentality] now to make sure that money that’s already been put aside from Detroit is used on behalf of people, neighborhoods, businesses,” Stabenow said.

But it’s not over yet. Bing said more help is coming and that residents should see serious changes within the next few years.

“One of the things I continue to hear today, and it’s a really strong message, is teamwork,” Bing said, adding, “We here in Detroit can’t fix all of our problems alone.”

MORE: White House Details Obama’s $300M Plan To Help Detroit

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