DETROIT – The Detroit City Council has approved a key land swap deal, paving the way for a new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembly plant on the city's east side.
The plant is expected to bring an estimated $2.5 billion in investment and nearly 5,000 jobs.
Detroit is notorious for not being able to get much done quickly, yet work is accomplished here. Now, with the vote of the City Council members on 12 different ordinances, Detroit is about to have its first new automotive plant in generations.
The FCA Jeep assembly plants will be an oasis in what has long been a vast, dry desert.
"Today was historic," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. "No doubt a great day. It's the best day of my term as mayor, and Detroit was the city that built the middle class in America. Today we started building the middle class across Detroit."
City Council members are skeptical, in particular of the land swap with Matty Moroun and others and whether the promised 5,000 jobs will actually go to Detroiters.
Councilwoman Raquel Castendena-Lopez voted against some proposals.
"I cannot compromise ethically and morally on some of the land transfers being presented today, where we have a corporation who has illegally occupied public land for years who is not being held accountable and we are giving him parcels of land," Castendena-Lopez said.
The United Auto Workers' national contract dictates temporary and laid off Chrysler employees are first in line, but Duggan believes there will be ample job opportunities for Detroit residents.
"You want to talk about a leap of faith: They had a cornfield all set to go in another state that could have done without the fuss and muss of going through the City Community Benefits Program," Duggan said.
The plant could have gone to another state in the Midwest, Duggan said.
He said there will be a website for Detroit residents to apply for work. He said he believes there will be employment at the plant for Detroiters for the next 50 years.