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Right Time for Metro Detroit?

I'm seeing some synergy today. Some good news about the city, the suburbs and all of that:

* Saab Cars is putting its North America headquarters in Royal Oak. The former division of General Motors Corp. is now owned by Dutch luxury automaker Spyker Cars NV. The city gave Saab a property tax break, and the Michigan Economic Growth Authority gave the company a $1.2 million, five-year employment tax credit to get the deal done. Come news to come on this today as Gov. Jenny Granholm holds a press conference. A highlight:

Its headquarters would house sales and marketing operations, advertising, technical assistance and customer support along with possibly parts testing and vehicle evaluations. Other operations based in Royal Oak would include human resources, accounting, IT, legal and clerical staff. Eventually, distribution for Canada and Mexico could be based out of Royal Oak. Saab is prepared to invest about $2.4 million and create up to 60 jobs over the next five years. The jobs would pay an average $1,693 a week.

Nice words out of Mike Colleran, chief operating officer of Saab Cars North America as noted by The Detroit News:

"There are great suppliers here, and the human resources here are second to none," he said.

* Model D has a nice Q&A with Matt Cullen, who heads the M-1 Rail project. A highlight of his thoughts on why the right people are in the mix on this transportation innovation:

This is the right group of assembled leadership. From the private sector, we have (Robert) Penske, (Dan) Gilbert and myself, and from the governmental community, we have Mayor Bing, (Wayne County Executive Bob) Ficano, (Governor) Granholm ... right up to the federal branch. From the foundation community, we've got Rip Rapson from Kresge, the Ford Foundation supporting transit-oriented development, and we're talking to a number of other foundations. It's a coalition of folks getting their heads around this and, to use a train analogy, once it gets moving, gets momentum, it's difficult for people to stand in front of it. I analogize it to the riverfront: it's a pretty similar process, you get the right people in the room and are inclusive in the process, get people enthusiastic about it, and you can get things done.

* The New York Times drops in again to comment on the downsizing project. The author adds some thoughtful words of warning:

If Mayor Bing tries to do too much, too quickly, without giving enough to the residents who have to move, then right-sizing will justly be seen as yet another example of the public insensitivity and folly that has unfortunately marred too many past efforts at dealing with urban distress.

The comments section of this article is a great read as well; people seem truly interested in this "project" and whether it has potential to bring back the city's greatness.

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  • 1

    Great news except that all the Saab employees are currently located in the RenCen so this is just some shuffling of the deck chairs .... and is actually negative news in that we're removing workers from our city-center and placing them in a suburb.

  • 2

    Dan Gilbert is praised by all the local Detroit Media for doing his part to save Detroit. What a lark. Why won't anyone ask him the tough questions? He originally committed to building a world class headquarters in Detroit and that he would move 4,000 employees downtown into the new building. Then last year in July 2009 Dan Gilbert said that because of the “economic downturn and housing slump” he was not able to build a new building in downtown Detroit and instead of moving 4,000 people to downtown Detroit that he would only be moving 1,700 (see ). It was during this same “economic downturn” that Dan Gilbert started lobbying Ohio residents and legislature to get a vote on the ballot to allow him to open 4 casinos in Ohio. He spent millions of dollars in Ohio promoting the ballot issue and it passes. Dan Gilbert has committed to spending over $600 million in the state of Ohio over the next couple of years to get the casinos open. Dan Gilbert has been quoted as saying that his flagship cash cow Quicken Loans Mortgage company had it best year ever in 2009 and that 2010 is off to another record breaking year. So here he is reeling in the cash, he is able to invest over $600 million in Ohio for gambling casinos but cannot build his building and move 4,000 employees to downtown Detroit – how committed is he really to Detroit?

    Think about it – right now Detroit casinos get a lot of gamblers coming here from Ohio as well as from surrounding states of Ohio. Detroit Casinos are barely making it now. When Dan Gilbert opens his Taj Mahals in Ohio how many gamblers will either stay in Ohio or will go to Ohio to gamble versus Detroit? Casinos in Ohio are going to be a huge drain on the Detroit Casinos and the city of Detroit. What impact will the opening of the Ohio casinos have on the city of Detroit? Why isn't anyone in the media asking this question? How many jobs in Detroit are going to be lost as a result of the economic hardship the Ohio casinos is going to cause the city of Detroit? How really committed is Dan Gilbert committed to the success of Detroit? The $600 million plus dollars that Dan Gilbert is going to pump into the Ohio market could go a long way to revitalizing the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan.

    At the end of the day Dan Gilbert is no different than any of the Wall Street bankers and wears the same bullet proof vest that they wear. How has Dan Gilbert gone unscathed by the local media? It was his Mortgage Company, Quicken Loans, high pressured call center mortgage bankers that were selling the $0 down loans, the interest only loans, the $0 down, interest only variable interest rate mortgages that got us all in trouble to begin with (for crying out loud they are the guys that invented all these crazy mortgage programs). Dan Gilbert's Quicken Loans single handedly did more harm to the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan than any other Michigan company by being a co-conspirator in one of the biggest scams in American history. We all lost the shirts off our backs and our homes and he fleeced his pockets with our cash. He spent over $400 million of our money buying the Cleveland Cavaliers and now he is going to spend over $600 million of our money in the state of Ohio. Like the guys on wall street he is above the law….like the guys on wall street his mortgage company can screw all us little guys and laugh all the way to the bank with his millions and millions and now billions of dollars.

    Think this guy and his company are AAA rated – think again – see - or also, why doesn't anyone report on the fact that Quicken Loans has been involved in a class action lawsuit by its employees because they force their employees to work hours and hours of overtime but refused and continues to refuse to pay its employees the overtime.
    Dan Gilbert and all of his people should be ashamed of themselves for committing one of the greatest frauds on Americans. And the Detroit media should be ashamed of themselves for giving this man a hall pass and not getting underneath the real news behind Quicken Loans and what they are all about. Do not be fooled. It is corporate greed at its best. He has no altruistic goals of saving Detroit. He will save Detroit if it makes financial sense for him, and then only if he doesn't have a better opportunity to earn a larger return on his investment elsewhere. Today it is Ohio and tomorrow who knows. The only thing larger than Dan Gilbert's ego are the lifts in his already oversized heeled boots.

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