Michigan Central: Innovating Together for a Better Tomorrow
February 4, 2022
Two and a half years ago, we shared a bold vision for Michigan Central. We’re not just restoring an iconic building or constructing another Ford campus. We’re creating a unique mobility innovation district, where the world will come to solve the mobility challenges of the future, together.
Every day it seems, innovation is disrupting the status quo, creating new industries and new job opportunities, and helping people live longer, healthier lives.
But we also face unprecedented challenges in mobility: from pollution, to congestion, to climate change. Mobility affects everything from how much time we get to spend with our families, to the quality of air we breathe, to the fairness of our world: who has good access to education, jobs, food, and healthcare, and who does not.
Mobility can help solve all these problems – and make freedom and progress possible. The right mobility solutions can change people’s lives for the better: helping to reduce pollution and congestion; slowing climate change; and enabling access to better education, a higher-paying job, healthier food, and affordable healthcare.
We studied innovation partnerships around the world and concluded that the global challenges we face demand a new paradigm. A place open to everyone who cares about the future of mobility, from every discipline, and all backgrounds. That’s why Ford Motor Company invested nearly a billion dollars to make an iconic train station the centerpiece of a 30-acre innovation district unlike any that has come before it: Michigan Central.
And that’s why we’ve building in Detroit. No community has more grit, or knows more about mobility, than Detroit. And we believe that the people of Detroit’s richly diverse neighborhoods have invaluable perspective to share as we build the future of mobility together – to make mobility better, and more equitable, all over the world.
Michigan Central is not a corporate campus, it’s an open innovation platform. And while some buildings are still under construction, this open platform is already open for business. In 2020, Michigan Central partnered with innovation leader NEWLAB to create the Accessible Streets Studio. We worked with the communities of Corktown and southwest Detroit to identify the mobility challenges most important to them; and we have already launched more than a dozen technology pilots based on their priorities.
But Michigan Central will succeed only if we all work together. The problems we face today are too complex, too diverse, and too urgent for any company, government, or individual to tackle alone. That’s why we’re bringing together a diverse group of companies – industry leaders in software, energy, sustainability, and many other fields – to partner with us; and we are thrilled to announce that technology pioneer Google is the first company joining Ford as a Founding Member of the Michigan Central Innovation District.
Google believes in the city and people of Detroit, and a key focus of their efforts at Michigan Central will be workforce readiness and mentorship programs to give everyone who calls Detroit home the opportunity to learn the skills needed for today’s most in-demand technology jobs. For example, Google’s Code Next program will train the next generation of Michigan entrepreneurs in a dedicated, state-of-the-art space where high schoolers will learn coding and other technical skills. And because having access to the latest data and tools is critical to effective innovation, Google Cloud will be the data platform supporting the innovations that will help define the future of mobility.
Michigan Central has also entered a landmark public-private partnership with the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit committed to four ambitious goals:
- Transportation Innovation Zone: Designate the Innovation District as a zone for development, pilot, and deployment of mobility technologies and solutions in real world environments.
- Economic Development: Launch and grow programs in the Innovation District that create the right set of conditions for high skill job creation, startup company growth, risk capital, technology commercialization and for other positive economic opportunities unlocked by the Innovation District.
- Workforce Development: Provide world-class training, post-secondary adult education, and career readiness resources within the Innovation District to attract and develop global talent and prepare local workforce for high-tech jobs in mobility and other emerging fields.
- Community Development: Promote housing and community development and civic engagement that tie industry growth and innovation to neighborhood vitality and inclusiveness in and around the Innovation District.
Our seed investor, Ford, will continue to be an active and critical partner at Michigan Central, and has already had success in the district developing the Mustang Mach-E and the Autonomous FREC on the Go Shuttle. But Ford is just one of many partners who will create, work, and live in the District. Our bold vision of collaborative innovation is taking shape, and we invite everyone who shares that vision to join us – inspired by Corktown and Southwest Detroit’s rich heritage and culture.
Many people say a mobility revolution is coming. But we know it’s already under way. What we’re doing at Michigan Central today will change tomorrow; unlocking access and opportunity for Detroit and communities around the world.
For details of these partnerships and much more, please check out our press release Michigan Central Advances Plans for Mobility Innovation District; Google Joins Ford as Founding Member; State of Michigan, City of Detroit Make Critical New Commitments.