Edsel B. Ford II - Detroit's Newsmaker of the Year


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DETROIT, Feb. 16, 2005 -- For his life-long commitment and contributions to the city and citizens of Detroit, Edsel Ford has been named Crain's "Newsmaker of the Year" for 2004.

Ford, a member of the Company's Board of Directors, was honored by Crain's Detroit Business as the publication's "Newsmaker of the Year" for spearheading development of the new Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, and for championing the city as chairman of the Detroit 300 Conservancy. The award was presented during a luncheon sponsored by the Women's Economic Club and Detroit Economic Club.

In accepting the honor, Edsel Ford noted that his civic contributions to Detroit continue a family tradition going back to his great-grandfather, Henry Ford.

"Everyone here has one thing in common. We all live lives that are influenced, at least in part, by the thought and actions of my great- grandfather. I accept this honor as a representative of citizens, both individual and corporate, who are showing in tangible ways their love for the City of Detroit," Ford said.

In addition to founding a company that became a major employer and community presence in metro Detroit, Henry Ford was a philanthropist and civic contributor. Edsel B. Ford II's grandfather and namesake, Edsel Ford, served as Arts Commissioner and his portrait is included among the hundreds of faces laboring together in Diego Rivera's famous mural of the Rouge Plant at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Edsel's father, Henry Ford II, was the leading figure in developing Detroit's Renaissance Center and the founding of the United Way.

"I want my grandchildren to have the experience that I have had with my children, enjoying the tranquility of a weekday and the excitement of race day at Belle Isle Park," Ford said. "I want them to stand by the river and watch the freighters parade past. I want them to walk in the shade of trees planted by people who loved them before they were born. I want them to celebrate in a park in the center of Detroit."

In developing Campus Martius Park, Edsel Ford and the Detroit 300 Conservancy led efforts to create what is being called Detroit's new "Town Square." The $20 million project with its community ice rink attracted more than 11,000 people in its first month. The park includes a high-tech fountain, bakery and restaurant, garden space, and stages for concerts, and served as the focal point for January's Motown Winter Blast. It will also be a local highlight later this year when Detroit hosts baseball's All-Star Game, and next winter when the city hosts the Super Bowl.

While expressing pride in the City of Detroit, Ford told the audience there is clearly more work to be done.

"I want to remind you that while time is money, money is no substitute for time. In addition to your donations, Detroit requires your dedication if we are to be the city we can be," he said.

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