Michigan Central Advances Plans for Mobility Innovation District; Google Joins Ford as Founding Member; State of Michigan, City of Detroit Make Critical New Commitments
February 4, 2022
Michigan Central – a mobility-focused innovation district connecting innovators with Fortune 500 companies, government entities and others – announces new commitments with the state of Michigan, the city of Detroit and tech leader Google to continue creating a hub for mobility innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability and community development
- Google is joining Ford as a Founding Member at Michigan Central, focusing its efforts on training and educating people in Detroit for the high-tech jobs of the future and collaborating to solve mobility problems challenging communities
- The state of Michigan plans to align more than $126 million in new and existing programming and resources to support the goals of the district, including the alignment of existing state projects
- City of Detroit administration is working with Michigan Central to designate a Transportation Innovation Zone in the district, where entrepreneurs and Founding Members can fast-track the safe piloting and deployment of new mobility solutions
DETROIT, Feb. 4, 2022 – Michigan Central is launching a public-private partnership with the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit, and Google is joining Ford Motor Company as a Founding Member of the pioneering mobility innovation district. These critical partnerships will enable Michigan Central to advance its vision to help create a more accessible future for all.
“Only a few short years ago, I announced Ford’s investment in Detroit because I believed in a vision that reimagined the iconic Michigan Central train station and surrounding area as a place of possibility again,” said Bill Ford, executive chair, Ford Motor Company. “Today’s announcements reflect our commitment to that vision, attracting the best and the brightest to come together to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges. The arrival of Google as a founding partner is exactly the kind of investment and progress I knew was possible to revitalize our hometown. And I could not be more pleased that the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan are also joining us in this ambitious effort. I know it is only the beginning of what we can achieve together.”
Google and Ford – along with future Founding Members – will be part of a diverse group of companies at Michigan Central collaborating on the products, services and experiences that help define the future of mobility. Guided by a shared commitment, Founding Members, will support the culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable community development that define Michigan Central’s mission.
To foster this work, Google will provide cloud technology for Michigan Central’s mobility projects. The Mountain View, California-based company also will offer workforce development training to local high school students and job seekers.
Ruth Porat, senior vice president and CFO of Google and Alphabet, said, “We’re proud to join Ford as a Founding Member at Michigan Central. This partnership will expand our work in Michigan and help a substantial number of people gain the skills and tools they need to succeed. By offering digital skills training, mentoring to high schoolers learning to code, and Google Cloud technology for Michigan Central projects and research on the future of mobility, we look forward to contributing to Michigan Central’s mission and all it will accomplish.”
Ford Motor Company announced plans to restore the iconic train station in 2018 as the centerpiece of a 30-acre open innovation platform to help define the way people and goods move around in the future. The once world-class station had been abandoned since 1988. The project is on track, attracting partners from around the world to create an inclusive, vibrant, walkable mobility innovation district in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood.
The public-private partnership between Michigan Central, the state of Michigan and the city of
Detroit will make the district a hub for talent, mobility innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability, affordable housing, small business opportunities and community engagement. The state will invest to ensure the community shares in the district’s success through new standards for housing and engagement, and that other economic goals become reality.
The state of Michigan plans to align more than $126 million new and existing programming and resources to support the goals of the district. This pledge includes new resources for district programming provided by the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. It also includes the alignment of existing state, like the reconstruction of Michigan Avenue and the development of new housing units around the district by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
“Ford is an American icon that has left its mark on Michigan – and the world – for more than 100 years, and we are proud to partner with Ford and other founding members at Michigan Central to shape the next century of transportation solutions while reducing emissions and accelerating electrification,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “By embracing a whole-of-government approach in our collaboration with Michigan Central and the city of Detroit, we are writing the playbook for a new kind of partnership that keeps Michigan at the forefront of mobility for generations to come. Together, we can continue growing Michigan’s economy, putting Michiganders first, and win the next century of auto manufacturing and technology development.”
The city of Detroit Administration also will designate a Transportation Innovation Zone inside the district where companies from corporations to startups can access improved and expedited review and approval processes to more effectively pilot new technologies in a safe, real-world environment. This first-of-its-kind testing site in the Midwest will accelerate the number of new technology deployments in the district.
“Just a few years ago, this train station was our city’s international symbol of abandonment,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “Now, it’s the symbol of our city’s resurgence and soon will anchor this new innovation district, developed by Ford, where innovators from around the world will create the future of mobility. For more than a century, Detroit has been the leader in automotive innovation and today marks a major step forward in keeping Detroit at the forefront of mobility innovation for the next century.”
The newly created Michigan Central Innovation District LLC will manage operations and support the district’s core initiatives.
Founding Members diversify district
Founding members of the district will set a dynamic research agenda and civic programming that puts the community first. The right mobility solutions have enormous potential to change people’s lives for the better, helping to reduce pollution and congestion, slowing climate change, and enabling access to better education, higher-paying jobs, healthier food and affordable healthcare.
Founding members will help mentor entrepreneurs and local businesses, as well as develop the workforce in Detroit, with Google leading the effort to train for in-demand technology jobs that Michigan will need to scale the solutions created at Michigan Central.
Google is opening a new Code Next Lab at Michigan Central to teach high schoolers computer science. The company also is partnering with local nonprofits – including M.A.D.E. Institute, Dress for Success Michigan and Streetwise Partners – to offer its Google Career Certificate program. The certificates equip people with skills for in-demand fields within three to six months, and do not require a degree or experience. Ford will join the program’s employer consortium of more than 150 companies that consider graduates for relevant jobs and will give current employees the opportunity to upskill through the certificate program that could contribute to roles in the Michigan Central ecosystem.
Google and Ford will continue work that’s already started in Corktown through Michigan Central’s partnership with Newlab, which was recently cited as Fast Company’s Design Company of the Year. Newlab’s proven studio model will serve as the catalyst for innovation in the district, aligning public and private sector leaders to pilot new solutions to complex mobility, sustainability and civic challenges.
Open for business
Restoration continues, with the first buildings slated to open this summer and the station itself set for completion early in 2023. But innovation is already underway at Michigan Central, with development, piloting and launching of new mobility solutions on real-world streets, in real-world situations in progress, such as the three studio tracks in collaboration with Newlab. Pilots in development include an app that helps blind and visually impaired people navigate complicated urban landscapes in response to community needs, plus innovation to support the electrification of commercial fleets, and rethinking how goods move on the first and last 50 feet of their journey.
Michigan Central continues as an active partner in driving Michigan’s mobility narrative forward, including a study with the Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, Michigan Aeronautics Commission, the Province of Ontario and others to explore the feasibility of creating commercial drone testing corridors.
Michigan Central also partnered with Electreon, Next Energy and Jacobs Engineering Group to win the Michigan Department of Transportation and Office of Future Mobility and Electrification’s proposal of Michigan as the first U.S. state to implement a public wireless electric vehicle charging system on a public road. The project includes dynamic and stationary wireless charging along a one-mile corridor, which will be hosted by and live within Michigan Central.
“Michigan Central is coming to life, and the district is already a catalyst for change and opportunity in Detroit and beyond,” said Mary Culler, Michigan Central’s development director. “We are attracting the best minds and organizations to help us build a better, more equitable future, and we’re doing that by working with partners in the public and private sectors to make sure we work together to solve these mobility challenges.”
With a unique mix of disruptive startups, established brands, government partners and community support, Michigan Central is positioned to become the global leader in mobility innovation, and to help communities around the world benefit from the increased access, opportunity and quality of life that mobility makes possible.
To learn more, click here for access to the virtual press conference, which begins today Friday, Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. EST.
About Michigan Central
Michigan Central is a new mobility innovation district in Corktown, Detroit. It is a sustainable community of new and revitalized buildings, shared spaces, a first-of-its-kind mobility testing platform, and 1.2 million square feet of commercial space. It will serve as an open platform for partnerships, drawing leading entrepreneurs, researchers, and technologists from Detroit and around the world to co-create and test new products and services on real-world streets, in real-world situations. It will be a place to solve urban transportation challenges, improve mobility access for everyone, and prepare for a more connected, autonomous and electrified world ahead. For more information, please visit Michigan Central Station | Ford Mobility Innovation .