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Five Detroit Companies Offer 'Live Downtown' Incentives

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Compuware Corp., DTE Energy, Quicken Loans Inc. and Strategic Staffing Solutions today announced a five-year, more than $4 million Live Downtown initiative that will provide cash incentives to employees who choose to move to Downtown Detroit and live where they work and play.

Live Downtown is a talent attraction and retention strategy to rebuild Detroit's core, which is an economic development imperative for the reinvention of the region's urban center. This plan will offer incentives to the approximately 16,000 eligible full- and part-time employees in Southeast Michigan from the five Detroit-headquartered companies.

Employee incentives include:

* New homeowners receive a $20,000 forgivable loan toward the purchase of their primary residence.
* New renters receive a $2,500 allowance of funding toward the cost of their apartment in the first year followed by additional funding of $1,000 for the second year.
* Existing renters receive a $1,000 allowance of funding for renewing a lease in 2011.
* Existing homeowners receive matching funds of up to $5,000 for exterior improvements for projects of $10,000 or more.

Eligible neighborhoods are Corktown, downtown, Eastern Market, Lafayette Park, Midtown and Woodbridge.

Live Downtown emulates the Live Midtown program launched in January 2011. The response to Live Midtown has been overwhelmingly positive and it is expected Live Downtown will also be enthusiastically received. Participating employers in the Live Midtown program include Henry Ford Health System, Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center. That program is administered by Midtown Detroit Inc., which will also administer Live Downtown.

In the downtown area, officials of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Compuware, DTE Energy, Quicken Loans and Strategic Staffing Solutions say they are united in their commitment and investment in the core city by not only moving more employees to downtown but also by working together to make Detroit's urban core a vibrant, safe, clean, economically viable community.

Not only will Live Downtown attract more residents, it will be a catalyst to renovate and convert more of our beautiful downtown historic landmarks to new housing units. It will also serve to create strong neighborhoods, which, in turn, will attract more residents and retail.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud to call Detroit home," said BCBSM president and CEO Daniel J. Loepp. "Together, we are already taking actions that will increase tax revenues, spark retail development and enhance the downtown Detroit area. Now, through the 'Live Downtown' program, we are taking the next step to attract people to Detroit not only as employees, but as residents of this great city."

"The Live Downtown initiative promotes the continued development of the city's central core," said Paul Hillegonds, DTE Energy senior vice president for corporate affairs. "At DTE Energy, we support the idea of providing greater convenience for our employees, the attraction of talented new workers and the goal of revitalizing Detroit's downtown."

In spite of the difficult economic conditions and the loss of population in the city, the Greater Downtown area continues to attract a very group of new residents of all incomes, ages, races and backgrounds as well as new businesses. It experienced a 59 percent increase in the number of college-educated residents under the age of 35 in the last decade, according to a recent article in the New York Times. That's nearly 30 percent more than two-thirds of the nation's 51 largest cities. Artists, designers, entrepreneurs and other young professionals are taking advantage of low real estate prices and the growing career opportunities.

"Our young, smart and energetic professionals want to live downtown and be where the action is. This program will provide the opportunity for them not only to work and play in Detroit, but also live in what is becoming an exciting, technology-focused urban core," said Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans.

In addition, many of Detroit's buildings are being restored and visitor numbers are rising.

"With major sports teams, world-class cultural institutions and superb entertainment options, Detroit offers the best urban experience in the world for the price," said Compuware executive chairman Peter Karmanos Jr. "For tomorrow's innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers and designers, we think Live Downtown provides another powerful incentive to stay, work and live in Detroit. That's good for the city and for Compuware's business."

Detroit is becoming a destination for jobs, especially in IT and health care. The health care industry is investing approximately $2 billion in new jobs, improved facilities and neighborhood improvements around Detroit's hospitals. In addition, more than 7,000 jobs and $120 million in investment have come into Detroit since 2010, according to Mayor Bing's office.

"Strategic Staffing Solutions has been located in Detroit since we opened nearly 21 years ago and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to further invest in both our employees and our city through supporting Live Downtown," said Cynthia J. Pasky, president and CEO, Strategic Staffing Solutions. "Having been a downtown resident longer than S3's been established, I am also looking forward to meeting the new friends and neighbors this program will bring to Detroit."

The Downtown Detroit Partnership is the overall program coordinator of the program and is leveraging Midtown Detroit's existing resources and skills used to launch and administer its successful Live Midtown program. Both DDP and Midtown Detroit are non-profit organizations.

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