The Public Lighting Authority of Detroit (PLA) has named Detroit native Odis Jones, formerly Economic Development Director for the City of Cincinnati, as executive director.

Jones comes to Detroit with extensive experience in managing urban initiatives. Prior to his work in Cincinnati, he served as director of Urban & Site Development for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) and before that was president of the Columbus, Ohio Urban Growth Corporation. Jones also has served as city manager for several cities in the Midwest.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have someone with Odis’ scope of experience to take on the task of restoring reliable public lighting within the city of Detroit,” said PLA Chair Maureen Stapleton. “The fact that he is a native of Detroit who wants to come back and contribute to the rebuilding of his home town speaks to the depth of commitment he brings to this assignment.”

Jones said he welcomed the opportunity to play a role in the revitalization of the city of Detroit.

“This is my home town and my dream has always been to come back here and play a role in rebuilding Detroit,” he said. “Clearly, a reliable public lighting system is a key component in that rebuilding and I welcome the challenge of turning this system around.”

As economic development director in Cincinnati, Jones has been responsible for leading efforts to attract new investment to the city as well as leading the development and implementation of a bond program that is projected to attract $120 million in new investment in the city’s neighborhoods.

As executive director of the Public Lighting Authority, he will lead the design and implementation of a three-year plan to rebuild Detroit’s public lighting system. It’s estimated that half of Detroit’s 88,000 lights are inoperable because of coil theft, bulb outages, vandalism and maintenance issues.

The Authority will begin the process by holding seven public meetings throughout Detroit in the next four weeks to engage and gather input from the community on the city’s public lighting needs.

“Community input and involvement is going to be a critical part of improving Detroit’s chronic lighting problem,” said Jones. “Our efforts will only be successful if they reflect the needs, interests and opinions of Detroiters. As a native of Detroit, I know how important community involvement has always been in any steps forward by the city.”

Jones grew up on Detroit’s east side, attending Lillibridge Elementary School, Joy Middle School and Osborn High School. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University.

In addition to his work in Cincinnati and New Jersey, Jones has served as the city administrator for Keokuk, Iowa; president of the Columbus, Ohio Urban Growth Corporation; and city administer of the city of Obetz, Ohio. He is a member of the International City/County Management Association, the American Planning Association and the International Economic Development Council

The PLA was authorized by Michigan Legislature in December, 2012 and approved by Detroit City Council earlier this year to design and implement a three-year plan to improve Detroit’s public lighting system. The PLA is governed by a five-member board appointed by the mayor and the city council.

PLA of Detroit to hold vendor fair

The Public Lighting Authority (PLA) of Detroit will hold a vendor fair October 10 to outline opportunities for qualified businesses to become involved in the PLA’s initiative to update Detroit’s street lighting system. The fair will be held at Fellowship Chapel, 7707 W. Outer Drive, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

“The Public Lighting Authority is committed to utilizing Detroit-based businesses wherever possible and this vendor fair is being held to assure that these businesses are aware of the opportunities available to them,” said Odis Jones, executive director of the PLA. “Business owners who attend the fair will learn about opportunities in and requirements for engineering, construction and material supply as well as learning about the requirements for vendor qualifications.”

Jones said those attending the event will learn of the PLA’s long-term plan for improvement of the public lighting system and the needs of the supply base in order to execute the plan. They also will be able to meet with the subject matter experts from the PLA’s project manager, DTE Energy, to discuss possible ways to connect with other businesses and organizations that share an interest in building relationships and partnerships.

In addition, Jones said the PLA will be discussing a Request for Proposal it will soon issue seeking qualified contractors to work on the lighting project.

The RFP will be for a variety of services needed in the reconstruction city of Detroit street lights, including but not limited to:

Luminaire replacement, including replacement of luminaire, and installation of a new lamp, fixture wire, and/or photocell and or PC adaptor.

Replace existing street light fixture wire as necessary to restore equipment to normal operation.

Trench, excavate and backfill as needed for installation of underground streetlight cable/conduit/pipe.

Removal and disposal of existing post, breakdown old foundation and remove exposed rods 30” below grade, hauling and install new post, transfer or install new luminaire, new fixture wire, terminations in post

PLA Chair Maureen Stapleton said the PLA is committed to utilizing Detroit-based businesses where possible and that the contractor will be expected to pursue local sourcing of work and utilize Detroit-based businesses in support of this effort.

“The PLA board is committed to assuring that Detroit-based firms and Detroit workers are fully involved in this project as we begin to relight the city of Detroit,” she said.

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