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Downtown biz leaders launch Detroit work-live incentives

The Live Midtown work/live incentive has proven so popular it has spawned a sequel, Live Downtown.

Live Midtown offers rent or home-buying and renovating subsidies to employees of the Wayne State University, Henry Ford Hospital and the Detroit Medical Center to move into the greater downtown area. Live Downtown will mimic that program, offering similar incentives for employees of Compuware, Quicken Loans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, DTE Energy and Strategic Staffing Solutions to move into the greater downtown area.

"Unless people are living, working and playing in the city, we will never have a truly revitalized city," says Paul Hillegonds, senior vice president of corporate affairs for DTE Energy. "That's what this is all about."

The Live Downtown program will provide incentives for people to live in the Central Business District, Midtown, Brush Park, Eastern Market, Lafayette Park, Woodbridge, Corktown and North Corktown neighborhoods. The four downtown businesses and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (a non-profit) have pledged $4 million toward the program over the next five years. As of right now, the program is available to 16,000 downtown employees.

The incentives include a $20,000 forgivable loan toward the purchase of a primary residence, matching funds of up to $5,000 for at least $10,000 exterior home-improvement projects for existing homeowners, $3,500 in rental allowance for new renters over two years and $1,000 for existing renters that renew a lease.

The Live Downtown program will be administered by Midtown Detroit Inc. and the Downtown Detroit Partnership. The Hudson-Webber Foundation is supporting the program's operating costs. The incentive area could expand in the future, but executives coordinating the overall effort say they are starting out with a targeted area to build density before expanding.

"We all know great states and great regions work when core cities work," says Dan Loepp, president & CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Source: Paul Hillegonds, senior vice president of corporate affairs for DTE Energy and Dan Loepp, president & CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke
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