Train Station Purchase Revives Memories and Rekindles Hope for Neighborhoods
For more than 100 years, Michigan Central Station has stood tall as both a symbol of Detroit’s prosperous past and more recent decline. Less than two miles away, Clark Park anchors a vibrant neighborhood that has been called the most ethnically diverse in the entire city.
Over the course of one week in June, Ford and its employees made investments in both places that highlight the company’s long-time commitment to the neighborhood — and its vision for the future.
Ford’s purchase of the historic train depot is a cornerstone of the company’s vision to become the world’s most trusted mobility company. The landmark building and renovation plans for the Corktown campus have quickly become a beacon of hope and inspiration for the future. During a week that saw Ford employees escorting more than 20,000 people on tours of the 105-year old train station, teams of Ford volunteers made their annual pilgrimage to Clark Park, where there is new excitement in the community and among Ford employees who grew up nearby and remember the depot well.
“After my father came back from the Marines his first job was at the train station,” said Dave Rodriguez, manager, Ford Multicultural Communications. “He worked there for quite a few years. Very fond memories of that building. I was able to take the train out there a few times. Looking forward to all the work that’s going to be done there.”
Rodriguez was one of about 170 Ford volunteers participating in the annual Clark Park cleanup sponsored by Ford’s Hispanic Network. Ford employees made repairs to the picnic tables and hockey rink, trimmed trees and landscaped the park, which is just down the road from the train station. Roberto Teran has organized and volunteered for the project the past 16 years.
“I’d bring my dad back here for picnics and he’d reminisce about the old neighborhood,” said Teran, engineer, Ford Product Development. “Ford fund donated money for enhancements to the park that will increase mobility for bicycles and put the park on the route for the Tour de Troit, where 5,000 bikers leave from the train station.”
“I used to run around the park. It was my track. And I used to run by the train station,” said Ricardo Munoz, Ford financial analyst, who used to live in the neighborhood. “We always talk about Detroit becoming better in the downtown and midtown areas. Hopefully, Ford can bring some of that prosperity to the people in the neighborhoods.”
Ford Motor Company was born in Detroit 115 years ago, and even though the company has been headquartered close by in Dearborn for decades, Ford has continued to invest in the city of Detroit where the company’s roots still run deep. Ford and Ford Fund provide nearly $20 million a year for local education, arts, culture, hunger relief and more. The Ford Volunteer Corps has worked some 10,000 community service projects in and around the city over the past 10 years. Many of those Ford volunteers enlisted to help out nonprofits in southwest Detroit.
Ford Fund has opened two Ford Resource and Engagement Centers (FREC) in Detroit, one on the city’s east side and the original FREC that opened four years ago at the Mexicantown Mercado in southwest Detroit. The FREC is a unique concept that is increasing access to basic needs and services that make people’s lives better right in their own neighborhoods. It is now being replicated around the world, expanding an innovative idea that launched within view of the train station.
“The whole area is going to come up, not just the train station, Corktown, everything,” said Don Jenkins, technician, Powertrain and Fuel Subsystems. “It’s going to be a gem for the city. I left from there as a child with my parents to visit the South. I remember all the tile on the walls and the smell of the diesel. Everything was so huge. It makes me feel great about the company.”
Ford plans to have at least 1.2 million square feet of space in Corktown and approximately 2,500 Ford employees, mostly from the mobility team. Detroit became the Motor City in large part because of Ford. Detroit is now being hailed as America’s comeback city with Ford once again helping to lead the way.
“I’ve seen a lot of rebirth and regrowth in Detroit,” said Clarence Hopkins, a financial analyst, who attended the train station event. “It shows me more and more that Bill Ford is a true Michigander and believes in what Ford does for the community. I think it’s wonderful.”
“It’s important to see that the company is willing to invest in a building a lot of people thought was ready to be demolished,” said Maricela Hernandez, Ford Credit IT. “It shows that Ford is willing to take the risk to help us bring the community back and we appreciate that.”
The Ford Volunteer Corps Season of Community Building runs from July through September and includes Ford Global Caring Month. If you’d like to register for a project and help make people’s lives better go to: www.volunteer.ford.com.