DETROIT – Today marks the one-year anniversary of Ford’s acquisition of Michigan Central Station. In that time, Ford has been working with the community and other stakeholders to create a destination that will help shape the future of transportation while strengthening Detroit’s position as the Motor City.
The new development, with Detroit’s iconic train station at its center, plans to bring together thousands of innovators, entrepreneurs, companies, designers, technologists and Ford employees to design and test new solutions for how people and goods move now and in the future – connecting them with an increasingly smart world. These efforts seek to make life better for people, communities and the environment.
To facilitate ongoing engagement with the community, a critical partner in its vision for the future, Ford is opening an information center at The Factory at Corktown. Located at 1907 Michigan Avenue, the space will provide the public with access to project information, construction updates, mobility pilot programs and technologies, as well as community initiatives throughout the four-year development.
Moreover, to honor the artists who have made this area their home, Ford will use the information center as a canvas to display new work. The windows will become a revolving gallery – adding arts, culture and history to Michigan Avenue – by offering local artists the opportunity to showcase their work throughout the year.
“We’ve learned a lot from local residents and businesses over the past year as we further our plans for development of Michigan Central Station,” said Mary Culler, Detroit development director for Ford Motor Company. “Our new information center will provide an ongoing opportunity to share our plans, celebrate the culture of the area and continue learning from the community. In this historic neighborhood, we’re building a place where people can solve real-world challenges and create future opportunities together.”
Mobility testing in Corktown
Ford employees in Detroit are already working with partners to reimagine transportation on the streets around Michigan Central Station – in a way that benefits everyone.
In December, the company launched a pilot program using its ride-hailing service GoRide to help families pick up meals and meet appointments at local food banks. Spin, an electric scooter startup Ford acquired last year, has expanded its fleet of scooters in Corktown to make it easier for residents and visitors to get around.
Argo AI, Ford’s partner for autonomous vehicle system development, started on-road testing of a Ford Fusion Hybrid self-driving vehicle in Detroit earlier this month. Similar vehicles are already deployed in Pittsburgh, Palo Alto, Miami and Washington, D.C. in an effort to learn more about how autonomous technology can be used in various urban environments. The Factory at Corktown, home to Ford’s self-driving vehicle business unit, has made a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company.
Ford’s City:One Challenge is also launching in Detroit this month. The crowd-sourcing program is designed to bring together residents, businesses and community groups to propose and pilot solutions to improve mobility for current and future residents of the Michigan Central Station development area. The first community workshop takes place later this month.
Investing in Detroit and local communities
Ford has a longstanding history of investing in Detroit and local communities. In addition to the new information center, Ford’s Corktown community engagement efforts include public meetings, events and a neighborhood-focused newsletter.
The company is restoring the long-abandoned train station into the centerpiece of a new innovation hub that will encompass several surrounding buildings, including The Factory and an Albert Kahn-designed former public school book depository.
Additionally, Ford is investing $10 million over the next four years through a community benefits agreement to support programs that benefit people living in the development area. This initiative focuses on housing affordability, workforce development, mobility solutions, parks preservation, neighborhood safety and preserving Corktown’s culture.
As part of this agreement, this month Ford awarded $250,000 in grants to four nonprofit organizations to fund programs that celebrate the area’s history and culture. Ford employee volunteers are participating in neighborhood projects like the Clark Park cleanup and a Gleaners Community Food Bank drive at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Southwest Detroit.
“For more than a century, Ford and Detroit have worked together to turn local ideas, inspiration and hard work into programs that improve people’s lives,” said Culler. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the community and others as we develop Michigan Central Station into a place that inspires innovation and creativity.”