Live Downtown Residency Incentives Reflect Tangible Momentum For Detroit

As a native Detroiter, I’ve heard plenty of talk over the years about rebirth and revitalization. Much of it, sadly, amounted to very little concrete action. That’s why I’m so proud that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is part of a new initiative to strengthen some of the city’s premier neighborhoods by bringing in more residents.

Announced today, Live Detroit follows the ongoing move of 3,000 Blues employees from the suburbs to downtown Detroit. It’s also the latest entry in a growing list of ways the Blues are actively supporting Michigan’s core cities.

Live Downtown is a joint initiative between Blue Cross, Quicken Loans, Compuware Corp., DTE Energy and Strategic Staffing Solutions. The five companies, which claim nearly 16,000  employees, are offering a collective $5 million in cash incentives to employees who choose to move to or stay in downtown Detroit.

Eligible participants can receive:

  • $20,000 toward the purchase of a new home
  • Up to $5,000 in matching funds to renovate the exterior of a home
  • Up to $3,500 ($2,500 the first year and $1,000 for the second) for a new rental
  • Up to $1,000 for an existing rental

The incentives will apply to six neighborhoods: Downtown, Midtown (including Cass Park and Brush Park), Woodbridge, Corktown, Eastern Market and Lafayette Park.

The program is modeled after the success of Live Midtown, a similar employee incentive program created by Wayne State University, Henry Ford Health System and the Detroit Medical Center.

I grew up on Detroit’s east side, graduated from Detroit De La Salle High and am now fortunate enough to head an organization that will soon have 6,000 employees working downtown. So I feel a personal stake in the city’s rebirth, and I’m proud that our company is putting our words into action.

It’s safe to say our partners in Live Detroit feel the same way.

That’s why Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert is working to build “Webward Avenue,” his vision of a new digital startup economy in downtown Detroit. Quicken is also moving thousands of its own employees downtown from the suburbs and is currently leasing space in the Compuware Building, which itself set off a flurry of positive momentum when it opened in 2003. It’s why S3 is expanding its presence in the city, creating jobs with help from the Blues and other partners. And it’s reflected by DTE, which has long made the city its home and invests in the communities it serves.

Together, we know what the rest of the world is slowly discovering: that Detroit is a great place to live, work and play, a place that is quickly assembling a critical mass of artists, designers, entrepreneurs and other young professionals drawn by the city’s incredible history, culture and a tangible sense of what’s possible.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

8 Responses to Live Downtown Residency Incentives Reflect Tangible Momentum For Detroit

  1. Concerned Parent says:

    This is such wonderful opportunity. However as a parent of a young child it saddens me that I could not even think about this as option. Detroit has one of the worst school districts in the nation and while things are slowly improving taxes are still high, crime is still high and over all public service such as EMS response time and police response time is still suffering.

    • Alicia K says:

      There are a lot of good schools in Detroit. But of course the one’s with the bad reputations get the most attention. Taxes are high in any big city. Compared to NY, LA, and Chicago, the cost of living in Detroit is significantly lower. The downtown/midtown areas are some of the most promminent in Detroit and they have had no issues with EMS or other emergency response time. If this is something you’re interested in, I would suggest research in the area that appeals to you before you completely dismiss the notion from what you see on the news. I was born and raised in Detroit and I have family and friends in Detroit who not only survive but thrive.

  2. Alisha Penn says:

    I have to disagree. Just down the street from our Lafayette building is Chrysler Elementary which is a National Blue Ribbon School of excellence. Students in the Detroit Public School district have an opportunity to attend wonderful schools. There are some bad schools and bad teachers but to paint the enitre city based on the negative reports is lazy. DPS high school seniors received more than $77.4 million in scholarships and grants this year. That didn’t get nearly as much attention as the graduation rate that was reported at 25% but that did not count students that changed schools or districts. Nor did it reflect those students who completed an alternative program, such as home schooling, or a job training program. If you choose not to move to Detroit, make sure that it is a choice based on all of the facts.

  3. Angela says:

    I’m thankful that BCBSM became involved with Live Downtown. However, the downside is that employees who moved Downtown and rent prior to the start of this program (because they had the foresight to move without being offered an incentive) will not benefit as much as others who will move only BECAUSE of the additional incentive. It would’ve been nice, if they had extended it to include anyone who had recently moved Downtown (but after the relocation of the Blues was announced) so that those employees would also receive the same exact level of benefits for renting in Downtown as a new tenant would.

  4. Shirley Vick says:

    I agree, i have been living in MidTown since December 2008. I should qualify for the whole $3500 rental incentive.

  5. La Trice R. Herring says:

    What makes an incentive an incentive? will the local lofts and apartments have viewings/tours of the properties. Some of the complexes offer “incentives” aside from the ones offered by employers. Some of the other corporations previously had other incentives that per their employees far surpassed what is offered here; but hey, every little bit counts.

  6. Dan says:

    What about Lansing? We are moving downtown also. Will any of these incentive be offered here?

  7. Pingback: How the New Entrepreneurial Spirit in Detroit Benefits All of Michigan « Blues Perspectives | BCBSM | Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

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