Kildee Introduces Bill to Redevelop Buick City in Flint

Date: March 22, 2022
Location: Flint, MI

Congressman Dan Kildee, Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today announced new legislation to help bring new economic development opportunities to Buick City and generate economic revitalization in Flint.

The Rust to Revitalization Act would allow Buick City and other former industrial and brownfields sites across the country to qualify as Opportunity Zones, generating investment and environmental renewal. The Opportunity Zones program was created in 2017 to help stimulate investment in older, industrial cities and towns like Flint, Saginaw and Bay City, by giving investors preferential tax treatment on investments in areas that qualify. However, some of the most in-need sites, such as Buick City, were not eligible to be designated as Opportunity Zones.

Congressman Kildee's bill would fix this oversight by designating census tracts where there is zero population as Opportunity Zones if they are former industrial, brownfields sites and are adjacent to an already designated Opportunity Zone.

"The Opportunity Zones program was supposed to incentivize economic investment in older, industrial areas. But this program overlooked places like Buick City, in my hometown of Flint, that need this additional help to attract investment. This bill will fix this, ensuring Flint has all the economic development tools it needs to revitalize Buick City and thrive," said Congressman Kildee.

Buick City is a former automotive manufacturing facility in Flint that the General Motors Corporation used throughout the 1900s to manufacture transmission and engine components until it ceased operations there in 2010. The Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust currently owns Buick City and is working to complete the necessary environmental cleanup work for the entire 413-acre site. Buick City was not initially eligible for designation as an Opportunity Zone because it has no permanent residents, meaning it didn't meet the definition of a "low-income community" necessary to qualify.

"This is an opportunity to correct an oversight regarding an important investment tool to redevelop Buick City. Expanding eligibility in the Opportunity Zone legislation will make Buick City more competitive by providing tax savings for those who want to invest at this amazing site. Moreover, returning the site to productive use is a top economic development priority that will benefit all of Genesee County. We thank Congressman Kildee for introducing this important legislation to help develop Buick City," said Tyler Rossmaessler, Executive Director of the Flint and Genesee Economic Alliance.

"Thank you, Congressman Kildee, for introducing legislation to correct this oversight in the Opportunity Zones program so that brownfields like Buick City can benefit from economic development incentives. Flint has a real opportunity to turn Buick City into a place that serves environmental justice--putting Flint on the map for something needed now and in the future, like manufacturing solar panels or electric vehicles, while minimizing environmental impacts on surrounding neighborhoods," said Mona Munroe-Younis, Executive Director of Environmental Transformation Movement of Flint. "I am excited that the Opportunity Zone designation could open the doors for greater environmental clean-up and environmentally responsible reuses of the Buick City site!"

"Many low-income communities are home to industrial brownfield sites that have become visible signs of decay within their communities. This legislation would expand the reach of the Opportunity Zones incentive so that those areas can be transformed to once again serve as anchors of economic activity. EIG welcomes this and other bipartisan efforts to build upon and enhance the original Opportunity Zones legislation in ways that improve economic well-being for overlooked communities nationwide," said Scott Shewcraft, Vice President of Policy at Economic Innovation Group.

Congressman Kildee has led in Congress to provide economic development tools to mid-Michigan communities. Congressman Kildee recently helped pass the America COMPETES Act in the House, which included his Trade Adjustment Assistance for Communities legislation, a four-year $4 billion program to help older, industrial communities negatively impacted by trade, like Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Detroit. On November 16, 2021, Kildee drew attention to Buick City's situation as a zero population census tract during a House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing on Opportunity Zones.