DETROIT — Crain’s Detroit Business honored Bill Ford Jr. as its 2018 Newsmaker of the Year. The special ceremony was held on Monday afternoon inside the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit.
Ford is the great-grandson of Henry Ford and currently serves as the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company.
Bill Ford talked about how he remembered the devastating period of the Detroit riots. As he was driving by the Corktown area to downtown, he considered buying the Michigan Central Station. After consulting with his wife, Lisa, about the purchase, he said “It was crazy to think about it.” Then, she said, “It is crazy NOT to think about it.”
Last summer, Ford Motor Co. completed the purchase of the Michigan Central Train Depot for $90 million from the Moroun family. The automaker will use the building for developing autonomous vehicles.
On Monday, the executive chairman discussed the future plans for the iconic 18-story building.
“It will be a whole community,” Ford added. “There will be restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and music. It will be a destination you want to come in and hang out in. I have been excited by the national and international response to this.”
“The transportation system research shouldn’t be in Silicon Valley. It should be in Detroit. This is our home, Detroit, Dearborn and Ann Arbor where there is AV (autonomous vehicle) research. To be able to offer the Corktown area as the future of automobile mobility is amazing.”
“We are now in a time of great transition,” he explained. “We are trying to balance it all. There are also amazing opportunities if we play it right. I find it fascinating and really, really interesting. Our whole mission is to make our lives and society better.”
How do you get people aligned with your vision? “You have to give people a great working environment. I have to make a call and have to go with it.”
How many surprises were there when you toured the building (Michigan Central Station)? “Structurally it is in very good shape. We want to do events there throughout the year to keep people interested. We are engaging with the community. We already announced a partnership with Volkswagen, but we haven’t crossed the finish line yet.”
Bill Ford has been with Ford Motor Company for 40 years and has been Chairman for 28 years.
Lisa Rudy, Associate Publisher at Crain’s Detroit Business, talked about how we get the news and the vision for Corktown.
KC Crain, Publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business, said “It is so much fun to be a Detroiter.”
There were several other 2018 Newsmakers which included: Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy; Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy; Warren Evans, Wayne County Executive; Dug Song and Jon Oberheide, Duo Security; Bharat Desai Syntel Inc.; David Cotton, M.D., Meridian Health; Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans; Matthew Moroun, Crown Enterprises; and Gretchen Whitmer, Governor State of Michigan.
Once again, Bill Ford Jr. was Crain’s top Newsmaker of the Year for 2018.
For more information about Crain’s Newsmakers of the Year, visit https://www.crainsdetroit.com/awards/crains-newsmakers-2018