Friday, April 25, 2014

April 25, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Obama Treasury Chief Signs Off on the Bank-Engineered Destruction of Detroit
Workers and retirees demonstrate outside federal court in downtown Detroit
on April 1, 2014. A movement to make the banks pay for the destruction
of Detroit is underway.
Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on Friday touted progress in Detroit’s revitalization efforts and renewed the Obama administration’s commitment to rebuilding the city.

Lew, accompanied by U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, highlighted a bill to expand the Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative and noted the federal government will remain a “strong partner” in Detroit during a news conference inside the New Center Stamping facility on East Milwaukee Street.

The remarks come as part of a two-day visit by Lew that included a Thursday tour of blighted city neighborhoods where he watched the first homes come down in Detroit’s Marygrove neighborhood as the result of $52 million in federal “Hardest Hit” Funds awarded last fall.

“What I saw yesterday was a strategy very well thought through and an execution that’s just beginning,” Lew told reporters at New Center Stamping. “We look forward to working with the city and the state.”

Last week, The Detroit News and others reported talks between Treasury, city and state officials over whether additional foreclosure money could be shifted to additional blight removal.

Lew said Friday the federal government “would be happy to entertain” additional applications for funding.

“There’s not an easy solution that will solve all of Detroit’s challenges and problems in one step, but what we’ve seen is that there is a lot we can do through the regular programs of the federal government to be a partner in Detroit,” he said. “It’s a commitment that the president has made.

“I’m going to go back and report that it’s having a real effect. We’re seeing it in terms of communities that are being helped. This is something we’ve got to stick at. We can’t just do it one day and be gone the next. It’s going to take Detroit a long time to solve all of its problems, but we are going to be partners moving forward.”

The stamping business, which received $3.7 million in funding from the SSBCI, served as the backdrop for Peters’ announcement about his plans to introduce next week a companion bill to expand the program that has created 50,000 jobs across the country, including 6,000 in Michigan.

“If we get additional funding we’ll be able to do more of what we are seeing in the city of Detroit,” said Peters, who is running for the state’s open Senate seat. Also running is Republican Terri Lynn Land.

The funding was used to backstop a $7.5 million loan the company said has saved and created jobs.

Company founder and co-owner Greg Smith said the initiative enabled the stamping plant to expand and create 60 jobs.

“We feel very deeply appreciative of the efforts and objective of the program,” Smith said during a news conference in the plant.

Friday’s tour follows a Thursday dinner meeting with foundation leaders hosted by the New Economy Initiative and David Egner, president and CEO of the Hudson Webber Foundation to explore ways nonprofits can help in job growth, promote education, skills training and increase access to capital.

Lew said his meeting with foundation leaders was encouraging and illustrates that “there’s a unity in the Detroit community,” he said, for a stronger future.

The dinner also included Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan; City Council President Brenda Jones; U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing; U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn; and U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Royal Oak. The foundation leaders who attended included Rip Rapson of the Kresge Foundation, John Erb and Jodee Fishman Raines of the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Mariam Noland of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Katy Locker of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Aileen ‘Ali’ Webb of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation and Ralph Gerson of the William Davidson Foundation.

Gov. Rick Snyder in August announced Detroit would get federal funding for blight removal. The Detroit Land Bank Authority expects to use the money to demolish about 4,000 residential properties in six target areas within the city.

The Detroit City Council unanimously approved an agreement earlier this month to transfer its inventory of 16,399 city-owned residential structures to the land bank to provide the authority with a steady pipeline of properties to consider as it works to spend the funding by next April.

Land bank officials have said they are also trying to secure additional money to expand efforts to rehabilitate, sell or tear down properties in other parts of Detroit.
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From The Detroit News:

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