Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

December 19, 2012

Ford gives $10M to Detroit, nonprofits

Donations will fund business development, other services

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. is donating $10 million to Detroit and several nonprofit groups in an effort to help bring job training, business development and other services to the southwest part of the troubled city.

Officials from Detroit and Ford said Tuesday that the money will fund a community center in the Mexicantown neighborhood that will offer training, a business incubator and a food bank. Ford also will pay for a summer camp, jobs programs and other community projects, they said.

Ford also will adopt a recreation center in the neighborhood and add programs for children including arts, gymnastics, karate and swimming.

Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields said Detroit's health is important to the company, even though Ford is based in suburban Dearborn.

"It's an important draw for bringing the best and brightest talent — or not," said Fields, who is the heir apparent to become Ford's top executive.

The money will help reopen the Mexicantown Mercado building, which opened in 2007 as a two-building complex that served as a community and welcome center, and housed fledgling businesses such as a jeweler, coffee shop and a soap retailer. The businesses closed and one of the buildings was vacated in 2008.

Hector Hernandez, senior director of the Mexicantown Community Development Corp. board, said the Ford donation will bring high-quality services and cultural events to the area.

Ford also donated two heavy-duty truck cabs and chassis to the city of Detroit for use as ambulances.

Mayor Dave Bing said the city hasn't had the money for new vehicles or to maintain its existing ambulance fleet. He pledged improvements that will make Detroit's ambulance response time competitive with other major urban areas in the country.

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