On February 22, 2023, Detroit, Michigan Mayor Mike Duggan announced the appointment of Amanda Elias to the newly-created neighborhood revitalization role of Deputy Group Executive for Neighborhood Economic Development within the administration’s Jobs and Economy Team (JET).
Creating the new position builds on the Mayor’s ongoing strategy to regenerate neighborhoods by revitalizing their commercial corridors, and Elias has a background in brownfield redevelopment that will be of great value.
“Over the past few years, we have begun to see a resurgence along some of our commercial corridors like Livernois, Grand River and Kercheval, and Amanda’s role is going to be to build on that success and bring it to more neighborhoods,” said Mayor Duggan.
“Amanda has been incredibly effective working with residents, developers and funding partners, and we’re excited for her to bring her energy to neighborhood-level opportunities,” he added.
In recent years, the commercial corridor strategy has included new streetscapes, targeted commercial investment, supporting small businesses through programs like Motor City Match and, most recently, launching a commercial corridor blight blitz.
Elias previously worked for the JET team as Senior Advisor from 2019-2021, where she helped lead the administration’s efforts on large-scale developments and their related community benefits processes for projects including The Parade Company’s relocation to the Brodhead Armory and the Michigan and Church project in Corktown.
Since 2021, Elias worked as a Senior Advisor to the Mayor over Government Affairs. In this position, she focused heavily on matching federal and state funding opportunities to infrastructure projects in Detroit, so the City could take full advantage of the unprecedented infrastructure funding made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Some of the projects she worked closely with state and federal partners to secure funding for are: the $105-million US Department of Transportation grant for the I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project; the recently announced $24-million grant from the Safe Streets and Roads for All Program; and the $25-million US Department of Transportation Grant to rebuild Michigan Avenue awarded last year.
In her new role, Elias and her team will work to unify and coordinate City departments to make it easier for developers to bring new retail and mixed-use, mixed-income developments to the city’s neighborhood commercial corridors.
“There are a lot of ways City departments are working to improve our neighborhood corridors and we plan to bring all of those efforts together into one central strategy and approach,” said Elias.
“We also plan to make sure every vacant lot and building has a plan that nearby residents support,” she continued.
Elias also will work with funding partners to bring redevelopment plans to fruition.
“We’re excited to work with a partner like Amanda Elias who is committed to ensuring that neighborhood commercial corridor investment creates opportunity for Detroit-based businesses and residents,” said Jermaine Ruffin, Vice President of Neighborhoods for Invest Detroit.
“Amanda’s leadership, persistence and skill are key attributes that will contribute to accelerating the type of neighborhood investment that benefits Detroiters,” he continued.
Elias joined the Duggan Administration in 2014, where she worked for the JET team as a Special Projects Manager. She then moved over to the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, leading workforce development in the areas of hospitality and entertainment as an Employer Engagement Manager.
She returned to the JET team in 2019 as a Senior Advisor to the Mayor working on large-scale developments, including the redevelopment and community benefits for the Michigan Central project.
Elias earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing Management from Wayne State University. She has served as a board member of the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority since 2020 and is a resident of Detroit.
Photo of Amanda Elias courtesy of the City of Detroit.