Skip to nav Skip to content Skip to footer

DESC, partners plan for The District Detroit

Partners Quarterly Meeting theme is preparing Detroiters for development’s jobs

By Paul Harris

Rochelle Collins and Jose Reyes
Rochelle Collins, Senior Project Manager, Heritage Development Services and Jose Reyes, Chief Operating Officer, DESC

Discussion about The District Detroit project dominated the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation Partners Quarterly Meeting, which was held at Detroit’s Northwest Activities Center on Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Of course, The District Detroit is the 50-block development – which will be anchored by the Detroit Red Wings new arena – between Detroit’s Midtown and downtown neighborhoods.
The development, a joint venture between Olympia Development of Michigan, The City of Detroit, the state of Michigan and Heritage The Diggs Group LLC, among others, is expected to provide 8,300 construction and associated jobs.

Olympia Development of Michigan has committed that Detroit residents will fill at least 51 percent of the construction jobs related to the new events center and initial mixed-use development. They also plan to work to achieve 30 percent Detroit Headquartered Businesses and Detroit-Based Business participation.
Some Detroit residents are already prepared to do the jobs that will be available and only need an opportunity. But many more are not ready for any of the jobs and need various types of training.

That’s where Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation comes in. Providing jobs, training and career opportunities for Detroiters is what DESC does. “We’re trying to get engagement from Detroiters who are looking for jobs,” said DESC Chief Operating Officer, Jose Reyes at the DESC Partners Quarterly Meeting. “… A database for where the skill is in the City of Detroit.”

DESC partners list offered services
DESC partners list services they offer

“I don’t know if there is a single organization that has a checkbook big enough to do all of this work,” said Reyes. “We can only do it by working together.”
According to DESC Director of One-Stop Operations Richard Acosta, a few of the main things the partners can provide to Detroiters who want to help build The District Detroit are transportation, added education (GED as an example), help with utilities, basic skills remediation and training.
The latter group is expected to be the largest.

But DESC cannot do that alone and the almost 150 representatives of the organization’s partners in attendance were asked, on Oct. 8, for whatever services they can provide.
“The biggest roll of candidates are going to be the one who need the most help,” Acosta said. “We don’t have the capacity to serve all of those people. But we know the people in this room do.”

Those in attendance were asked to list what services their organizations could provide and for any suggestions that they might have had. “We are willing to partner with you to the extent you’re willing to partner with us,” Acosta said. “Basically, what you can do.”
In his closing comments to end the meeting, Reyes said: “I think we’re well on our way with the group that we have. But the group is only going to get better.”