(Flint, Mich)— Mayor Karen Weaver is pleased to announce the application she, and members of her administration, submitted to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help address extremely low staff levels, and economic development needs in Flint, has been approved.
“We have been meeting with LaJune Montgomery Tabron and her team for over a year,” said Mayor Weaver. “I can’t thank her, and everyone at the Kellogg Foundation, enough for their willingness to learn about the unique needs of the city and the people of Flint and then step up to help in such a generous way. This grant will make a significant impact in our work to transition from crisis to recovery,” said Weaver.
Mayor Weaver and her team explained how after years under the control of state-appointed emergency managers staff levels at Flint City Hall has been reduced to skeleton crews. In some cases, entire departments were eliminated. Some departments were merged with others and then underwent drastic cuts, leaving just a few professionals in place to tackle the workload previously handled by an entire team of people. The problem became worse with the onset of the man-made water disaster. In order to address the critical needs facing the city such as; water quality improvement, deteriorating infrastructure, neighborhoods and a shrinking tax base, funding is desperately needed to help the City recover. Resources are also needed to help revive the City and focus more on economic development in Flint, which Mayor Weaver believes will be key to accomplishing a successful turnaround.
“Now that the needs related to water are being addressed and lead-tainted pipes are being replaced, we have to focus on revitalization and economic development,” said Weaver. “We need a plan in place to retain and attract more people and businesses to Flint. Businesses that offer good paying jobs for our residents. Once we accomplish that, we will have stronger neighborhoods and stronger schools and then our population will grow. That is what Flint needs to really bounce back.”
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded the City of Flint $2,957,800 over four years. The funds will be used to help City officials develop and rebuild Flint’s economic development.
“For the children of Flint to thrive, the city needs to continue to build capacity for economic vitality,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, W.K. Kellogg Foundation president and CEO. “This award will make it possible for Flint municipal leaders to access the skills and expertise needed to plan and implement long-term community development strategies as the city continues to recover.”
“Many people who have jobs still don’t earn enough to adequately provide for their families,” said Weaver. “We’ve got to change that. Our goal is to have a local government that is well managed, financially stable, and accountable to its residents. This grant will help us put the people and programs in place to do that.”
“We all believe in Flint,” said City Council President Herbert Winfrey. “We remember what Flint was like when business was booming, and we want it to be like that once again. This grant is going to provide a big boost to getting us to that point. It’s going to help the mayor and other city leaders get the right people in place and begin to execute a strong plan to bring about the change this city needs.”
“I also want to thank Ridgeway White and the C.S. Mott Foundation,” Weaver added. “The Mott Foundation has been very supportive and helped bring this to fruition. The City of Flint has some outstanding people and organizations, like the Mott Foundation, as well as the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has done a great job in recent years bringing businesses to Flint. Without it, economic development in the city would not be where it is today, despite all the challenges the city has faced. We look forward to working with the Chamber to take economic development in Flint to the next level.”
Award of the grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation comes at a time when Flint is starting to see signs of new life. Construction is underway at what will soon be a new automotive parts plant (Lear Corp.). A new state-of-the-art school recently opened (Educare Flint). In addition, another 6,000 lead-tainted pipes are set to be replaced through Mayor Weaver’s FAST Start program this year.
“This grant will allow us to build on the progress being made in Flint,” Weaver added. “This is a big deal, and I am very excited!”