Five firms make Detroit a priority

July 23, 2011 at 2:21 PM
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DETROIT, July 23 (UPI) -- Five firms with a total of about 20,000 employees said they would initiate a program to provide incentives for their workers to live in downtown Detroit.

Quicken Loans Inc. with about 1,700 employees, Compuware Corp., with 1,880 workers based in Detroit, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which expects to have 6,000 workers in Detroit by the end of 2012, Strategic Staffing Solutions and DTE Energy are participating in the program called Live Downtown, The Detroit News reported Saturday.

Strategic Staffing Solutions has 1,800 employees worldwide, while utility firm DTE, which is based in Detroit, has more than 9,000 employees, the newspaper said.

The plan calls for incentives nearly identical to those offered by Live Midtown, a separate program begun by Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center and Henry Ford Health System.

The new program will provide incentives for renters, home buyers and those who make improvements to a home's exterior.

Homebuyers will be granted a $20,000 forgivable loan toward the purchase of a primary residence. Workers who already own a home in the city will be given up to $5,000 as a matching grant for exterior improvements. Renters already in the city will be granted $1,000 for renewing a lease, while employees moving to the city as renters would be granted $2,500 towards rent the first year of signing a lease and $1,000 for the second year, the News reported

The programs are designed to keep the downtown district thriving. For the first half of the year, sales of residential homes and condominiums in Detroit fell 10.3 percent compared to the same period in 2010, real estate firm Realcom II Ltd. reported.

Nancy Schlichting, chief executive officer of Henry Ford Health System, said a rival program was no threat.

"Frankly, the more the merrier on this stuff. We want everybody to be incentivizing their employees to be living in the city," she said.

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