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ALLEN PARK, Mich. - A veteran Hollywood film executive who is a native Detroiter will build a $146 million, 750,000-square-foot film, TV and media production studio factory and village on 104 acres of land at Southfield Road and Enterprise Drive in Allen Park, officials announced today.

Productions at Unity Studios will employ up to 3,000 skilled and non-skilled union workers. Unity will employ up to 83 management/operational positions for the studio and within the Village.

City of Allen Park residents and laid-off union workers from across the region will get first shot at the jobs, Allen Park Mayor Gary Burtka said. “Unity Studios amounts to an economic development blockbuster and the best economic news announced in Downriver and southeast Michigan in years,” Burtka said. “This project represents new hope and, more importantly, job opportunities for thousands of Allen Park residents and auto workers who have lost their jobs.
“We have found an economic boost in the lights, cameras and action of Michigan’s newest high-tech industry.”
Governor Jennifer Granholm said the Unity Studios project highlights the success of the state’s efforts to attract the film industry to Michigan.

“We are working hard to build a diversified economy and create good-paying jobs for our talented workforce,” Governor Granholm said. “As a result of our aggressive film incentives enacted just a year ago, we are not only bringing new investment to the burgeoning film production community in Michigan, we are putting in place the infrastructure for an industry that will support long-term job growth and opportunity in new, creative sectors.”
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said the Unity Studios project is an important step in diversifying the county’s economy.

“Our economic development team has been working diligently with Allen Park on this project,” Ficano said. “We are now attempting to put together an incentive package that will create jobs in a new industry for the region.”
The county is considering making a Renaissance Zone designation available for the project when all benchmarks are met by investors, Ficano added.

Unity Studios will be majority owned and operated by a group of investors from Los Angeles and Michigan, with Jimmy Lifton of California as the President. Lifton, originally from Southfield, Michigan, has been in the business of entertainment for 30 years. He has owned an internationally distributed record label, produced 13 feature films, and is Principal of one of the largest independent post-production audio studios in Los Angeles, Oracle Post. Some of the most famous and familiar TV and film industry giants use Oracle Post including Fox, HBO, NBC, ABC, Disney, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Lionsgate, Universal, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, VH1 and MTV.

Also unique about the project: The Lifton Institute for Media Skills will implement one of the largest retraining programs ever enacted in Michigan. Out of work skilled and unskilled labor will receive on-the-set training and production experience, giving students production credits. In addition, the project will include a village where people can live, shop and find entertainment options.

“My goal was to help bring a new industry to my home state." said Lifton. "I like to think of Unity Studios as a factory in the tradition of Henry Ford's Rouge factory model. All aspects of production occurring in one location; workforce training, production, post-production, distribution and marketing. We will constantly be creating product on the lot, utilizing the Detroit area's best asset, the creativity of its people."

Burtka said the project represents a creative and progressive approach to community-based economic development and redevelopment: under the agreement with Lifton, the city will own equity in the studios. In addition, the studios are being developed on brown field property currently occupied by various buildings and open fields. As a result, it does not increase sprawl nor does it require the city and its taxpayers to shoulder significant new infrastructure costs.

“This project is an economic development win-win-win for Allen Park residents,” Burtka said. “We did not need to raise taxes a penny to win this project. Our residents get first shot at the jobs, and they are owners too.”

Allen Park officials said the project would not have been possible without significant support from the State of Michigan.
“We offer our sincere appreciation and heartfelt thanks to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan Film Office, Robert Ficano, the Michigan Economic Development Growth Corporation, and to the state legislators who helped us put all the pieces together,” Burtka said.

Additional details about Unity Studios will be released in coming weeks and months, including the start of construction, hiring, enrollments in the training institute, and partnerships with various other companies and industries in the region and state.