Michigan consortium signs Memo of Understanding for $5.5 billion development in Iraq

Prima Civitas Foundation coordinates consortium in reaching agreement with National Investment Commission of Iraq, headed by MSU alumnus Dr. Sami Al-Araji

East Lansing, Mich. – Officials from the National Investment Commission of Iraq today said the Commission has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to construct a $5.5 billion planned urban development on the outskirts of Baghdad. The consortium of Michigan companies leading this effort, MICH Development, is organized by the Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF), an organization founded by Michigan State University to leverage the university’s diverse resources to assist the state.

The MOU with MICH Development will pave the way for a major investment that will improve the lives of Iraqi families while also creating opportunities for American businesses, particularly those in Michigan. Dr. Sami Al-Araji, Chair of the Investment Commission and a Michigan State University alumnus, introduced this opportunity to MICH Development. PCF CEO Steven Webster said the MOU is the result of a long and complex set of discussions with officials in Iraq and Michigan businesses and paves the way for a second phase in the project’s development – finding key construction management and financing firms to take on the challenges of this major project.

“Our lineup of strong Michigan firms has won us the right to move forward and add other key players that are vital to move this project from the drawing board to bulldozers,” said Webster. “We are preparing now to engage in a national search for a senior construction management firm and a financing arm that will be able to move our work forward.”

Obtaining interim financing as well as partnering with a globally competitive construction management firm capable of building such an extensive project in the Middle East will be vital in ensuring the success of this effort.

Patrick McRae, Director of International Programs for PCF, recently returned from Iraq where he has been engaged in discussions with officials. He said preliminary estimates suggest that the Michigan firms could win about $1.5 billion in business from the project in planning, construction, engineering, project management, and green-energy development and procurement.

“Fewer than 10 consortiums have made it to the MOU stage on major projects with the National Investment Commission,” said McRae. “Our ability to bring Michigan companies to the table for planning, engineering and sustainable energy expertise and products has been vital – but we have more work to do.”

Bill Kimble, President and CEO of the Lansing, Michigan based firm C2AE, said the MICH Development team put together by PCF provides a strong backbone to the project. “We have aggregated substantial expertise in planned developments,” said Kimble. “If we can pull together the other components, this project will be important to many Michigan companies.”

Fay Beydoun, Executive Director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, said the MICH Development project will help show the people of Iraq that American companies are ready to invest in their nation. “American Iraqis are eager to assist in this project, to help our nation and state as well as their homeland,” she said.

McRae said the fully developed project is planned to cover 15-20 square miles at a site approximately 10 miles from the center of Baghdad. The project will include housing, schools, commercial, recreational and civic components as well as other amenities for Iraqi families.

Copies of statements and additional information are available at www.michdevelopment.us.