With Michigan Central Station set to open this summer, the world is about to see a historic transformation of the iconic building from a global symbol of urban decay to a real-life, real-time commercial reflecting how Detroit and our region is the place to drive automotive and advanced mobility innovation.

It’s a stunning turnaround for a building so central to the city’s mobility identity – and one that’s essential to reshaping the narrative about Detroit and helping organizations like the Detroit Regional Partnership as it travels the world marketing the 11-county Detroit Region as the ideal location for companies looking to expand and invest in North America.

Currently, the building next to Detroit’s iconic train station, the Book Depository, now houses Newlab, and has raised almost $700 million in venture capital funding, according to Ford Motor Company’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford. The automotive leader recalled early conversations about taking on the transformational project at the Detroit Free Press’ Breakfast Club Series on April 17. Ford noted how evocative the building is for so many because of its role the early days welcoming immigrants to a new country to coming to represent Detroit’s decline to younger generations who’ve only known it in disrepair.

“It struck me that if all we did to it was just an amazing restoration and made it wonderful for the public, that would be great. But it had to be something more. It had to be the place where the future of transportation was reinvented one more time and that the Motor City became the Motor City again,” Ford told Detroit Free Press columnist Carol Cain. The Detroit Regional Partnership served as an event sponsor.

About half of the companies at Newlab are from Michigan, and the other half are out-of-state, according to Ford. That type of business attraction is furthering the stature of the Detroit Region as a destination for companies and entrepreneurs wanting to be at the forefront of mobility innovation as the world transitions toward an autonomous, electric vehicle (AV/EV) future.

The former railroad station will reopen in June as a centerpiece of a vibrant 30-acre innovation tech hub where Ford and a range of partners will work on solving challenges at the intersection of mobility and society – something that has long driven Ford as he has sought mobility and innovation.

“We want everyone to come. We don’t want this to be a Ford thing. We want the best and the brightest,” Ford said.

In addition to its engineering talent, (Metro Detroit has the second highest concentration in the U.S.), Ford touted other mobility assets around Michigan Central that are making it an innovation hub and destination, from the country’s first inductive charging road to a unique testing space for drones.

“We can test all kinds of stuff there. And no other city – Silicon Valley doesn’t have that. And so, when we look at the assets we have here, both physical and people, we just gotta put it together.”

It’s the type of innovation that occurs in the Detroit Region due to its more than 400 plus mobility assets, and why the Detroit Regional Partnership houses the Global Epicenter of Mobility, which is designed to help build an inclusive and prosperous 21st century mobility sector.

It reflects the collective work that will keep Detroit and the surrounding region at the forefront of the automotive and mobility industry as it enters a new exciting era – an excitement perhaps eclipsed only by the enthusiasm around the Motor City, and championed by innovators like Ford Motor Company who continue to shape its future.