When Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan's administration ran this spring to gather 215 acres of eastern land needed for Fiat Chrysler Automobile's new assembly plant on Mack Avenue, they drove into an unpredictable property garden.
And unlike popular belief, it was not the Moroun family with their 82 acre industrial property at Mack and Conner.
A 7-acre piece of land east of Jefferson Avenue owned by Conrail proved to be the toughest property to acquire during the city's 60-day land purchase, according to Duggan.
"Railway companies don't make decisions in 60 days," Duggan said last week. "Our problem was not Morouns. Our problem was the railway company."
Duggan called an unusually ally to get help on what turned out to be a $ 500,000 land deal: East Coast Bank leaders at JPMorgan Chase & Co. [1
This type of shuttle diplomacy had worked before.
In 2015, when Duggan and Congress delegation lobbyed Congress for federal funds to clear demolition, Mayor Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase, received the year after Dimon had made $ 100 million in grants and low-interest loans to the city.
Dimon, head of the nation's largest bank, could make Detroit's case for blight funds in front of da-speakers Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – a republican audience the democratic mayor of a city one year removed from bankruptcy could not command that time.
After Dimon intervened, the blight funds were approved by Congress. A story Duggan often tells.
JPMorgan Chase's five-year philanthropic and targeted investment in Detroit has morphed into more than just one of the world's largest $ 2.5 billion financial institutions in assets that sprinkle a few hundred million dollars over Motor City.
Dimon and his team have b ecome an external vote for Detroit, validating the city's post-bankruptcy progress in corners of business and political worlds where the credibility of someone like Jamie Dimon means.
Like the power talks in Washington.
Or a railway company C suite in Philadelphia.
For his part, Dimon did not personally phone the call to Conrail.
"It wasn't me," said the bank's manager in an interview last week during his two-day visit to Detroit. "They may have used my name, but it wasn't me."
But Dimon's name carries weight.
And Chase's bank chairman and chief executive officer do not lend their names to any major city council.
His relationship with Duggan continues to flourish, as evidenced by the bank's promise of $ 200 million against revitalization initiatives by the end of 2022 – double what Dimon committed in 2014 while the city was still bankrupt and the future was less than secure.
"We see an extraordinary mayor – with a smile," Dimon told me. "Six years in, he hit the street lights, he got the ambulances back in time, he gets the whole community to work together, he doesn't complain, he works with the governors. Anyone who can help him, he applauds his help. An extraordinary political leader "That's the kind of leader we need all over America." And even though the 2020 democratic field is "a bit crowded now," Dimon still believes Duggan will drive the country.
"He" d be a great president, "Dimon added.
Dimon came to town on Wednesday for a council meeting with Duggan and high school students, where they gave life and career advice. Later that night, Duggan speculated JPMorgan's help to secure the country's deal with Conrail at an event celebrating the bank's work in the city at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. [OnThursdayDimonhadlunchwithDetroitrestaurateurswhoborrowedmoneyfromEntrepreneursofColorFundwhichhisbankhelpedestablishSince201668smallbusinessownershaveborrowedforconstructionandcapitalinvestmentintheirbusinessesfromtheColorFund'sEntrepreneursandonlyonehasdefaultedaccordingtoDuggan
Dimon also toured new home construction in the North End neighborhood with Develop Detroit CEO Sonya Mays.
The bank's new round of philanthropy and investment will have a greater focus on homes, especially homeowners.
Dimon said their focus will be on Stay on helping Duggan to stabilize neighborhoods to attract residents back into the city – and other investments along one-time commercial corridors.
But in the cities, the family's retreat is finding a solution to address the capital needs of the public school district buildings in the absence of new public debt to make improvements.
When asked whether JPMorgan Chase would get involved in Detroit's schools, Dimon replied, "It's very difficult for a bank to get billed in the policy for it."
Then he stopped.
"But we're studying everything," added Dimon. "If the mayor asked us to look at it, we would look at it too."