'Revive Pontiac' battles blight, creates jobs

PONTIAC, Mich. – Reviving a city and its workforce, that’s the goal of a new program called Revive Pontiac.

The program is the brainchild of Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, and was developed by the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLSHA) to also salvage what can be saved from vacant, dilapidated and slated for demolition buildings. 

“There are four pillars to our program: job training, jobs, economic development and blight removal,” said Ron Borngesser, OLSHA CEO.

The program’s funded through a grant awarded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The mission: to revitalize Oakland County communities, starting with Pontiac, by reducing the blight and repurposing salvaged materials.

The bonus, Revive Pontiac also creates sustainable job opportunities to low-income individuals in Pontiac and outlying areas. Participants will complete a classroom/certification training component combined with hands-on deconstruction work.

“All 10 members of the inaugural crew are unemployed, some were incarcerated, but all of them were looking for a second chance,” Borngesser said. “We help give them skills they never had before so they’ll be ready for a new job.”

It was a chance at skills that 46-year-old A.D. Cooper was looking for.

“I had a painting company, but was unemployed for two years,” Cooper said. “This helps provide opportunity I never thought I would experience."

The salvaged items from the six buildings Revive Pontiac will deconstruct will be repurposed and resold. The team members will turn what they saved into pieces of artwork, furniture and more. Those items will be resold to sustain the program and to continue to revitalize communities. 

To find out more, visit RevivePontiac.com