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FCA makes good on commitment to help revitalize east-side Detroit neighborhoods

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Monday allocated nearly $ 700,000 to invest in three east-facing boroughs of Detroit as part of its community service commitments.

The funds will contribute to environmental education and rainwater management improvements in Chandler Park, and will support the city’s Impact Neighborhood Fund, which supports public projects in the Chandler Park, East Canfield and Riverbend neighborhoods. The city will work with residents to determine what these projects will look like.

“The east side has been forgotten so often, but not today,” Councilor Andre Spivey said during a press conference. “We want this to be a goal. We want this to be a place where people can grow, live and work.”

The pledges are the result of a benefit agreement related to the Italian-American automaker’s $ 2.5 billion investment in its Detroit Assembly Complex on the east side. The new Mack assembly plant will begin production of a new, unnamed, full-size Jeep SUV in the first few months of next year. The adjacent Jefferson North assembly plant will also receive updates for the next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.

Ron Stallworth, Wayne County, FCA's external affairs director, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, announces a nearly $ 700,000 investment in the Eastside communities of Detroit at a news conference in Chandler Park in Detroit, Michigan on December 21, 2020.

“It’s a huge responsibility we have as a company and we don’t take it lightly,” said Ron Stallworth, FCA director of foreign affairs for Wayne County. “Our entire team is committed to partnership and collaboration with residents, particularly on the east side of Detroit. We are here to meet our commitments.”

Economic catalyst Invest Detroit is the trustee for the $ 400,000 contribution to the Impact Neighborhood Fund on Monday. Detroit’s Planning and Development Department will work with residents of the city to determine which projects will be funded. The other half of Fiat Chrysler’s $ 800,000 in the fund will come next year.

“Partnerships are critical to the survival of our neighborhoods,” said Jay Henderson, president of the Riverbend Association and the Detroit Police Department’s 5th Precinct Community Relations District Council, a community group made up of neighborhood associations and block clubs. “We are a community of workers who want only the best for our families, and that includes clean, safe, and sustainable neighborhoods.”

The funds are expected to be divided between the three districts. One potential project it could support in Riverbend is a walkway and pavilion in Goethe Park, Henderson said.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, FCA, announces a nearly $ 700,000 investment in Detroit's Eastside communities at a December 21, 2020 press conference in Chandler Park, Detroit, Michigan.

An additional $ 285,000 will go to the Chandler Park Conservancy. The money will be used to fund an educational pavilion focused on rainwater management, wildlife habitat and environmental protection near the new 2.5 million gallon rainwater marshland on Dickerson Avenue and Frankfort Street in the 200 acre park. The funds will also support other rainwater management systems that divert water from nearby roads to prevent flooding.

Chandler Park Conservancy President and CEO Alex Allen III speaks at a news conference in Chandler Park, Detroit, Michigan, about FCA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' investment in the Eastside communities of Detroit during a press conference on December 21, 2020 worth nearly $ 700,000.

“We believe we can teach children, teenagers, adults and seniors about environmental education, birds, bees, flowers and trees, and how rainwater works in the park,” said Alex Allen III, CEO of the reserve.

The structure will work in partnership with a similar environmental education pavilion at the new rainwater park, which the FCA is also funding under their benefits agreement on Beniteau Street and Kercheval Avenue, said FCA’s Stallworth, who is also a member of the Conservancy Board.

Design for a future education pavilion in Chandler Park.  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, FCA, announces a nearly $ 700,000 investment in Detroit's Eastside communities at a December 21, 2020 press conference in Chandler Park, Detroit, Michigan.

In addition, the automaker made 4,100 Detroiters conditional vacancies, though not all will work at its new Mack facility. The company has allocated $ 4 million to found the Manufacturing Career Academy at Southeastern High School, $ 5.8 million to workforce development and training, and $ 1.8 million to a repair grant program of home ownership and $ 1.4 million for other environmental projects.

Over the next month, the FCA will provide more details on its plans for solar bus stops, the distribution of rain barrels, the restoration of the 300 lots on which the city has demolished buildings, and the planting of 600 more trees on top of the original 500 it is committed to has to communicate.

“Our collective future,” said Stallworth, “will be based on how we work together to transform this neighborhood on the east side.”

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Dusty Kennedy