DETROIT — (AP) — Ford Motor Co. announced on Friday that Google is joining the automaker’s efforts to turn a once dilapidated Detroit train station into a research center focused on electric and autonomous vehicles.
In addition, Detroit and the State of Michigan have agreed to provide infrastructure and other support to the Michigan Central Innovation District, which will include the old train depot and other nearby buildings in historic Corktown. , just outside of downtown, Ford said.
“Google’s arrival as a founding partner is exactly the kind of investment and progress I knew was possible to revitalize our hometown,” Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement. “And I couldn’t be happier that the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan are also joining us in this ambitious effort.”
Ford announced plans for the Michigan Central Innovation District in 2018, shortly after purchasing the 18-story, 500,000-square-foot (46,450-square-meter) train depot. Renovations to Michigan’s more than century-old Central Station could be completed by next year, Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Co. Fund, told The Associated Press. Ford plans to research, test and launch new mobility solutions there.
The station, which towers over Corktown, has stood empty since the last train departed in 1988 and has come to symbolize Detroit’s long decline from American manufacturing powerhouse to its greatest municipal bankruptcy.
“Now it’s a symbol of our city’s resurgence,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a press release, “and will soon be the anchor of this new Ford-developed Innovation District. where innovators around the world will create the future of mobility.”
The state will provide more than $126 million in programs and resources, including infrastructure. The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker said the Duggan office is working to designate a transportation innovation zone in the district, with the goal of getting small businesses and entrepreneurs started and tested. safe projects.
Google, which has more than 600 employees in Michigan, will open a lab on the 30-acre (12-hectare) site to teach computer science to high school students. Google’s role includes a certification program.
“It’s a partnership where Google would train people and Ford would, obviously, accept people who have this kind of certification in our future state,” Culler said, noting that people wouldn’t need a college degree.
Google’s job is to make sure people have the digital skills and coaching they need to succeed, said Ruth Porat, its chief financial officer.
“Michigan was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution,” Porat said. “Now the world is in the midst of a digital revolution and Michigan is at the forefront of tackling the big issues of the day. We believe this is the right time and the right place to really create that kind of digital skills effort.”
The automotive industry as a whole is moving towards more fully electric and hybrid propulsion systems, more autonomous driving features and increased connectivity in vehicles.
Michigan Central Station opened in 1913 and for decades was a Detroit gem and hub for rail transportation to and from the city. Detroit-made vehicles—as well as air travel—contributed to its downfall.
Bill Ford didn’t say how much it would cost to buy the station from billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun or how much the automaker plans to spend to fix it, though the company said the total investment was around $950. million dollars for the station and surrounding neighborhood. .
The company wants the Innovation District to be a big part of the city’s direction from here.
“Innovation breeds innovation,” Culler said. “The more we are at the forefront of this innovation and the more we see what others are doing, the more it will improve everyone’s game. And I think it’s going to be a game-changer for the city, the state, and the region.
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