A man who was the CEO of the company contracted by Detroit to negotiate the new Red Wings arena is now running a real estate firm contracted to work for Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, reports the Detroit Free Press.
George Jackson used to be the president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a non-profit hired by the city of Detroit to negotiate the new Red Wings arena deal, which includes $285 million in public money. The year after the arena deal was struck, Jackson resigned from the DEGC and soon started his own real estate consulting firm.
In November, Ilitch hired Jackson’s firm to help the Red Wings with the stadium and real estate deal. Though the timing of Jackson's new business relationship with the team might raise eyebrows, he told the Free Press that he did not conduct business in bad faith.
“I left public service well over a year before my firm accepted a private client,” Jackson said in a written statement. “Why should I be denied the opportunity to earn a living in my hometown, when I have skills, experience and knowledge that can be put to good use — and will create jobs and opportunities for other Detroiters?”
Construction began on the Red Wings' new hockey arena in April of last year. The entire project, which includes retail and housing investments, will cost an estimated $650 million.