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.

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