by Scott McClallen
The U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $3.8 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Recovery Assistance grant to the University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, to construct the university’s new College of Innovation and Technology.
The grant, to be matched with $4.9 million in local funds, is expected to create 126 jobs, retain 175 jobs, and generate $10.4 million in private investment.
“We are grateful to Secretary Raimondo and the Biden Administration for investing in University of Michigan-Flint’s College of Innovation and Technology,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This grant will help us usher in a new era of prosperity by supporting over 300 good-paying jobs and generating $10.4 million in private investment.”
Mayor Sheldon Neeley welcomed the investment.
“The University of Michigan-Flint is a pillar of excellence in the community and continues to offer residents access to a college degree as an investment in their future,” Neeley said in a statement. “This grant to build the College of Innovation and Technology will create jobs and strengthens UM-Flint as a higher institution committed to student success. The City of Flint looks forward to supporting this work and our continued partnership to get residents back to work and back to school.”
The grant is the latest spending in Flint. In the fiscal 2022 budget, Flint received an extra $2 million, which includes:
- Berston Field House: $1 million for renovations, including an early childhood playground, an elementary school playground, three basketball courts, a softball diamond, a football and soccer field, outdoor amphitheater, restrooms, and outdoor community space.
- Flint Library: $250,000 for renovations to the 60-year-old building, including all-new heating and cooling, plumbing, electrical, and elevators.
- Flint Social Club: $375,000.
- Flint United Basketball: $100,000 for collaboration with the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village to support core programs of academics, arts, and athletics.
- North Flint Food Market: $460,000 for the new food co-op grocery store.
- Blight removal: $1 million for cleaning up vacant buildings and abandoned property.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo said in a statement the grant will provide for the construction of the new 17,000-square-foot Innovation and Technology Center, a “one-stop business gateway for training and research, innovation and job recruitment.”
An analysis of U.S. census data this month found about 32.4% of the population of Flint living below the poverty line reside in high-poverty neighborhoods – the highest concentrated poverty rate of the 14 metro areas in the state.
The analysis found that in the metro area’s poorest neighborhoods, about 23.8% of the labor force are unemployed. The overall jobless rate in Flint of 9.3% exceeds the state jobless rate, which was 4.7% in August.
“The pandemic exposed the need for economic diversification and resiliency in many regions across the United States,” Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo said in a statement. “This EDA investment on the University of Michigan-Flint campus will fuel innovation and entrepreneurship and ensure our nation recovers from the pandemic and builds back stronger.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.