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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2.5 Million In Local Universities And Chamber To Aid Construction And Brownfield Redevelopment Projects

FLINT, Mich. – U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams today announced that three organizations in the city of Flint will receive Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants totaling $2.5 million to construct a Mobility Research Center at Kettering University; establish a University Center for Community and Economic Development at the University of Michigan-Flint; and create a brownfield redevelopment accelerator for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.

“Ensuring that our nation’s communities have the vital, infrastructure and tools needed to support economic growth is a top priority for the Economic Development Administration,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary Williams. “Today’s investments support Flint’s initiatives to grow the local economy and provide employment opportunities for the local workforce which helps strengthen the country’s global competiveness.”

The investments announced today are:

  • Kettering University

    The $1.9 million EDA investment will support Phase II of Kettering University's GM Mobility Research Center, a 19-acre state-of-the-art automotive research facility and testing grounds. Phase II consists of a low speed road course and garage facility. The purpose of the investment builds on Kettering University's automotive legacy of supporting, developing and validating automotive related technologies. The purpose of the project is to provide an environment for the university and the automotive industry to collaborate on automotive advancements. The project will transform an existing brownfield site, promote environmentally-sustainable development, support U.S. industry in innovation and global competitiveness, leverage public and private funding, and economically strengthen an underserved and distressed local community. The project will also improve Kettering University's already highly recognized experientially based engineering programs which support the area's automobile industry.

“This unique facility – the only one of its kind on a college campus in the country – puts Kettering and Flint at the forefront of autonomous vehicle research and development, safety and technology,” said Dr. Robert K. McMahan, Kettering University President. “This facility will create new learning opportunities for students, it will enhance faculty research opportunities and it will allow the University – and the city of Flint – new potential to attract industry partners to conduct product research, development and testing. We are grateful for the support from the EDA to allow us to construct phase two of this incredible facility.”

  • University of Michigan-Flint

    The University of Michigan-Flint received a highly-competitive grant of $400,000 during five years to establish a University Center for Community and Economic Development. The EDA-funded University Center will provide entrepreneurship and innovation support in the seven-county region (Genesee, Shiawassee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties). The project includes funding for a regional asset mapping initiative — which will evaluate the impact of regional economic development efforts and conduct an annual regional business climate survey. A dedicated EDA University Center Research Fund also will support applied UM-Flint faculty and student research around economic and business development needs. UM-Flint students also will create a website to facilitate access to regional economic data, research findings, and create an interactive map.

“Our faculty and student researchers will provide important insights our region needs to make the most of its economic development work,” UM-Flint Chancellor Susan E. Borrego said. “The UM-Flint EDA University Center will help our region’s economic development planning and decision making — and ultimately evaluate economic development efforts to asses which were most effective. We know that the U.S. Economic Development Administration is very selective in the creation of its University Centers and we are proud to host this project on our campus.”

  • Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce

    The Flint Genesee Chamber of Commerce and the Genesee Area Focus Fund in partnership with the City of Flint have requested an $197,416 Economic Adjustment Assistance grant to conduct a Feasibility Study for a business accelerator at the City of Flint's largest Brownfield site, known locally as Buick City (Racer Trust site). The study will provide the City and its strategic partners with critical capacity building to support the redevelopment of Buick City. The feasibility study will include three main elements, a Market Study, a Site Plan, and a Business Plan, that will determine the justification for constructing a business accelerator facility at the Buick City site.

“Brownfield sites are both a challenge and an opportunity for Flint,” said Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber. “Apart from a perception that there are environmental and infrastructure challenges at the sites, there can be difficulties involved with identifying property price, processing site plans, and working through business licensing and legal procedures. On the other hand, brownfield sites are optimal sources of real estate on which build modern facilities that will be attractive to site selectors and businesses looking to locate here. The EDA grant provides a critical piece of the puzzle for brownfield redevelopment in Flint.”

About the Economic Development Administration
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. To learn more about EDA, visit www.eda.gov.

About Kettering University
Kettering University is a national leader in experiential STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and Business education, integrating an intense academic curriculum with applied professional experience. Through this proven approach we inspire students to realize their potential and advance their ideas by combining theory and practice better than any institution in the world. Kettering University is dedicated to achieving the extraordinary through technological innovation, leadership and service, built on values that foster respect, integrity, creativity, collaboration and excellence in growth, global leadership, community outreach and an engaged community of stakeholders. More: www.kettering.edu.

About University of Michigan-Flint
Founded in 1956 on a commitment to bring a quality Michigan education to Flint and the surrounding area, UM-Flint has done exactly what we set out to do. In the process, we’ve welcomed a record number of students into our classrooms, equipping them with the knowledge, experiences, and skills to make lasting contributions to the businesses, organizations, and communities they help shape. We invite you to see how our students, faculty, staff, and campus are making a real difference. More: www.umflint.edu.

About Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce
The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is a premier business membership organization unlike most chambers of commerce. In addition to traditional member services, our responsibility includes serving as the lead economic development agency for Flint & Genesee, marketing tourism, youth and business training, and a Shared Services Center. More: www.flintandgenesee.org.