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SPOTLIGHT: Michael Williams, Journeyman Electrician, Detroiter

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Detroit-native Michael Williams spent six years traveling and working outside of his community to remain employed in his field.

Luckily, those days are over for the journeyman electrician, who now works at the job site for the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.

With all the new construction in The District Detroit and surrounding areas in the city, Williams said work opportunities for an experienced electrician like himself remain plentiful.

"The way things were in the early 2000s, I never thought I would see this,” Williams said of the city’s ongoing revitalization.

With the help of his union, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 58, Williams had to find work outside of Michigan during and after the Great Recession, working in places like New Orleans as the city sought to recoup from Hurricane Katrina.

The longtime East English Village resident said he was drawn to working at the business school site because it was a new construction project.

“I hadn't worked on many new projects and I wanted to say that I worked on one during Detroit's rebound before I retired,” he said.

Williams first entertained pursuing his trade after observing a group of electricians in the hallway at his alma mater, Pershing High School. After graduating in 1980, he went on to work in management for a now-defunct fast casual restaurant chain, and then began a four-year apprenticeship in 1988.

Williams said he enjoys working in his field because it allows him to travel to different job sites and learn new skills. At the Mike Ilitch School of Business, for example, Williams has met new people in different trades and has been introduced to exciting, modern technology.

Slated to open this spring next to the new Little Caesars Arena on Woodward Avenue and Temple Street, the new business school is made possible by a historic $40 million donation from the Ilitch family.

Once the business school is complete, Williams plans on working on more Detroit-based projects as the city’s rebound continues.

"I think it's a good thing for Detroiters and the economy. People can come back to the city, it can be diverse and we can move on,” he said.

About The District Detroit

The District Detroit is one of the largest sports and entertainment developments in the country. Located in the heart of Detroit, this 50-block, mixed-use development led by the Ilitch organization unites eight world-class theaters, five neighborhoods and three professional sports venues in one vibrant, walkable destination for people who want to live, work and play in an exciting urban environment. Home to the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Lions - The District Detroit represents the greatest density of professional sports teams in one downtown core in the country.

Current data from the University of Michigan demonstrates that The District Detroit will account for an economic impact of more than $2 billion by 2020 and create more than 20,000 construction and construction-related jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs.