Carpenters & Millwrights to consolidate all regional operations in Detroit, build $30M state-of-the-art training facility in Oakman Boulevard community

  • Carpenters and Millwrights Joint Training Fund committing millions of dollars to expand skilled trades opportunities
  • 1,500 students annually to be trained for free, put on path to well-paying career


DETROIT – Statewide Michigan Carpenters and Millwrights Joint Apprenticeship and Training Fund and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan today announced plans to build a new, 120,000 square foot, state-of-the-art training center in Detroit.  The new $30 million facility will consolidate all of its administrative and training operations, which currently are spread across locations in Warren, Ferndale, Livonia and the Renaissance Center, under one roof on Detroit’s west side.

The training center will be built on 7 acres of vacant city-owned land in the Oakman Boulevard area on the site of the former Tappan School. When completed, the new facility will have classrooms and training areas for hands-on experience and real-world simulations, using methods and tools that include some of the most advanced in the construction industry. The new center will also include space to host community events.

Work on the training facility is expected to break ground early next year and be completed by mid-2021. When it becomes operational, the center will train up to 1,500 students every year. 

“This incredible new facility, located right at Elmhurst and Tuxedo, will be where every Detroiter who wants to help rebuild our city by becoming a carpenter or millwright will be trained,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “I can’t thank our partners at the Carpenters and Millwrights enough for their continued commitment to providing training and career opportunities to Detroit residents.”  


Carpenters expand commitment to training & employing Detroits

Two years ago, the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, which is the state’s largest skilled trades union, was among the very first skilled trades union to sign on to the Mayor’s Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP) and commit to tripling the number of Detroit residents in its membership over the next 10 years.  During that time, the union has committed to growing their Detroiter membership from 283 to 849 members.

To meet this goal, the MRCC will ensure that 25 percent of all incoming first-year carpenter apprentices are Detroit residents. MRCC and its contractor partners fund all aspects of the apprenticeship program, including the construction of the new center.  Currently, 142 of 525 apprentices (26%) are Detroit residents.

MRCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mike Jackson said, “Michigan’s union carpenters and millwrights are focused on learning and improving ourselves so we can keep contributing to both Michigan’s economy and the local communities we serve. We’re excited to get our new training center up and running so we can help provide unparalleled skills and training to thousands of men and women who want a good-paying job in a career that is always in demand. The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights is tremendously grateful to our contractor partners and the City of Detroit for their support, and to the families of the Oakman Boulevard neighborhood for their warm welcome. Together, we can create local jobs, provide opportunity and grow our local economy here in this neighborhood as well as across Michigan.”


Free training for in-demand skills

Highly trained skilled trades professionals are in high demand in Michigan, and experts anticipate the current shortage of such workers to continue well into the next decade. Skilled trades professionals such as carpenters and millwrights account for more than 500,000 jobs in Michigan. Every year, businesses need 15,000 workers to fill job openings in the skilled trades. Careers in skilled trades typically do not require a four-year-college degree and pay well above Michigan’s median income.[1]

Students at the new facility will study and train in an apprenticeship program designed and taught by the carpenters and millwrights union, which currently has more than 14,000 members across Michigan. Enrollment in the apprenticeship program is free, and students incur no debt for their education. Men and women who join MRCC’s apprenticeships also get good wages, healthcare and pension benefits while they learn.

“There’s incredible demand for skilled workers throughout our state, especially here in Detroit, and local contractors want to hire skilled, local workers,” said Donna Pardonnet, executive director of Architectural and Construction Trades Michigan and chair of the Training Fund. “This new training center is good for business and the economy. We’re proud to partner with the union to build this facility.”

Jackson said that not only is the training free, students will get paid as they learn.

“Through our commitment to create Detroit jobs and our new training center, Michigan’s carpenters and millwrights union, together with our contractor partners, will help thousands of Detroit residents get access to state-of-the-art training for good careers in the skilled trades and get paid while they learn,” Jackson said. “Skilled trades careers represent a brotherhood and sisterhood of professionals who strive to be the best, look out for each other and rebuild Michigan and our neighborhoods from the inside out. Carpenters and millwrights represent Michigan’s future, and our new training center – built completely without any taxpayer dollars – represents the gateway to that promising future for countless of men and women willing to learn and work hard in a rewarding, good-paying career.”


Project welcomed by neighbors

Residents of the neighborhood welcomed the news that new development and job training opportunities will be coming to a plot of land in their community that has sat vacant for years.

“I’m looking forward to the carpenters union's project improving our area, in a big-time way,” said Jackie Henderson, President of the Tuxedo Neighborhood Association. “The environment, the living quarters, the value of our homes – it will all go up. That will help out a great deal of people in the neighborhood. We'll have more watchful allies in this area of the city.” 

Chemical Bank, which recently announced plans to build its new headquarters in Detroit, will work with the union to finance the $30 million construction project.

“Chemical Bank is proud to be financing this important project — an investment in skilled trades, high-paying jobs, and the hardworking people of Detroit,” said Tom Shafer, CEO and President of Chemical Bank.