Should the city of Detroit offer tax incentives of $100 million to help Ford bring its $740 million Corktown project to life at the defunct train station?
The issue was fodder for the “Michigan Matters” roundtable of Denise Ilitch, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and former GM Executive Roy Roberts. They joined Carol Cain, Senior Producer/Host, as they talked about the project and other issues. (The show airs 11:30 a.m. Sunday on CBS 62).
Ford announced in June they would redevelop the Michigan Central Depot and nearby area in a deal valued at $740 million. Ford, which aims to make the area a catalyst for mobility, said it needs $239 million in tax incentives– including $100 million from Detroit — to help make it happen.
It’s a delicate issue given Detroit emerged from bankruptcy only three years ago, and would be giving up future tax revenue.
Ilitch, eldest offspring of Marian and Mike Ilitch, mentioned how the city offered her parents incentives to move their Little Caesars headquarters from the suburbs to Detroit when Coleman A. Young was Mayor.“But you have to look at things like how many jobs will be created,” Ilitch said.
Cain mentioned the impact the Little Caesars move had. “Look at all the amazing things going on today in Detroit thanks to the vision and efforts of Marian and Mike and Coleman A. Young,” she said. “Who knows where we’d be if they hadn’t done so.”
Roberts, who was in charge of GM’s sales, service & marketing arm, talked with Cain about his riveting career. He was the highest ranking African American auto executive in the world and mentored employees including Mary Barra, now CEO & Chairman of GM.
“I knew then she would go far,” he said. “She worked hard, is smart, and focused on the task and not herself.”
Roberts, who also served as Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools after being appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, explained why he has not reached out to talk with Dr. Nikolai Vitti, who was hired as Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District 18 months ago.
He discussed his philanthropic efforts and why he and his wife, Maureen, have donated millions to the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Roberts also is involved with development projects including the renovation of the St. Regis Hotel in Detroit.
He wrote a book about his life and career, “My American Success Story: Always the First, Never the Last” which he talked about too.
(Watch “Michigan Matters” 11:30 Sunday on CBS 62)