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Detroit’s auto industry is awake and flexing its muscles by investing in the city and leading Michigan’s recovery

North American International Auto Show

Many say there are two Detroits. They’re right.  There’s Detroit the city and there’s Detroit the Motor City. Both are making a comeback.

automotive-mi-Ford1Not long ago trashing Detroit’s auto industry was great sport. It made for great jokes on  late night TV. Did we laugh? Maybe a little if the delivery was funny but really not so much. What the auto industry has accomplished is no laughing matter.

The auto industry is important to Detroit … and to Michigan.

To get the word out the Detroit Regional Chamber has launched MICHauto, a group dedicated to promoting, retaining and growing the automotive industry in Michigan.

According to Chamber CEO and President Sandy Baruah, MICHauto will work closely with other economic development agencies as well as industry leaders to help Michigan’s auto industry compete with other regions that are building automotive hubs around the country and around the world.

“The auto industry in Michigan was a like a sleeping giant that most people just took for granted,” said Tom Manganello, who serves on MICHauto’s board and is a partner in Warner, Norcross & Judd where he leads the firm’s Automotive Industry Group. “Well now it’s awake, flexing it muscle and leading the state and country’s economic recovery with MICHauto as its advocacy group. We are dedicated to making sure the people in our state, country and the rest of the world know about what’s happening and how they can show their support.”

Michauto-LogoOur state is the global epicenter of the automotive industry and we are proud to be a part of its rich heritage and progressive future. After all, the U.S. auto industry was born in Michigan (Detroit to be exact). Take a look at the numbers. They’re pretty impressive.

  • Michigan ranks #1 in the concentration of engineers (65,000) nationally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s real brain power.
  • Michigan has 650 auto-specific education programs offered at 91 colleges, universities, community colleges and vocational schools.
  • Michigan is the automotive R&D hub with 370 R&D centers, 120 of which are foreign-owned, and $12 billion in annual spending.
  • Michigan is home to 61 of the top 100 automotive suppliers.
  • Michigan is a logistical auto hub reaching half the U.S. population in a single day’s drive (500 miles) with air, rail and water infrastructure to move products around the world.
  • Michigan leads the nation in new car and truck production (23% of total U.S. output), number of OEM assembly plants (12) and OEM component/material plants (35).
  • Since 2010 automakers and suppliers have invested $11 billion in Michigan with nearly $1 billion from foreign companies, at the same time 78 new automotive companies were founded in the state.
  • Michigan has lower unionized wages that are below the national average.
North American International Auto Show

North American International Auto Show

These eight statistics are big reasons why Michigan led the nation in manufacturing job creation from 2010-2012, creating nearly 55,000 new jobs. They are also played a key role in our state’s recovery.

Manufacturing may have led our current recovery but its gain was auto-driven. In fact, auto manufacturing makes up more than 50% of Michigan’s GDP recovery story, according to the Michigan Economic Center.

So what’s the impact of the auto industry on the nation? Check out these numbers from the Michigan Economic Center.

  • Each $1 million in new auto sales means 11.6 jobs in other areas (retail, food, housing etc.)
  • Every $1 increase in sales in autos means $2.34 in sales in rest of the economy and $.51 spin-off earnings for other Michigan residents.

Let’s not forget that the auto industry also provides good, challenging, well-paying jobs both in the current industry and in the budding industry growing up around firms in Michigan researching hydrogen fuel cells and other non-petroleum power generating technologies that may drive vehicles in the future.

imagesCAGGMNM3The automakers also have invested in the city of Detroit. Here are just a few examples.

Ford, GM and Chrysler joined several other businesses in an $8 million program to provide 100 new police cars and 23 new ambulances to bolster Detroit’s fleet. Other companies involved are Penske Corp., Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Kresge Foundation and Platinum Equity.

Nearly 400 GM employees worked with Habitat for Humanity to clean and board up vacant properties in the Morningside Commons neighborhood on Detroit’s east side. They cleaned and boarded up more than 40 vacant houses near Ronald Brown Academy, which is one of two neighborhood elementary schools in the Morningside community.

This summer 110 Detroit-area high school students are working alongside GM retirees, interns and employees to help clean up Detroit, do service projects and learn how to lead and succeed. They’re part of a GM paid summer intern program called GM Student Corps., which is guided by 60 GM retirees, 12 GM student interns from the University of Detroit Mercy and employee volunteers from team GM Cares.

michigan-automotiveFord is investing more than $773 million in new equipment and capacity expansions across six manufacturing plants in southeast Michigan. In addition, it launched a $10 million program to strengthen Detroit neighborhoods and support education, summer jobs programs, and other community needs. It’s called Operation Brighter Future and will provide support for the new Ford Resource and Engagement Center in the Mexicantown Mercado building in southwest Detroit, the expansion of youth programming at the Patton Recreation Center and funding for other neighborhood projects.

In addition, Ford is providing support to the Greening of Detroit and its efforts to turn abandoned sites into parks, and the Detroit Summer Youth Employment program, which provides training and work experience for youth between the ages of 14 and 21.

Chrysler moved 70 employees to the former Dime Building in downtown Detroit, now renamed Chrysler House. It also agreed to invest $3 million over the next five years to sponsor one of the stations on M-1 RAIL light rail route from downtown Detroit to New Center. Ford and GM also have invested in M-1 RAIL.

Automotive supplier Lear pledged $5 million over 10 years to support the revitalization of Detroit.  It is being used to fund specific infrastructure improvement projects, including parks as well as community-based programs that support children and families.

Detroit’s auto industry is indeed awake and flexing its muscles. The goal is to let the world know and keep those muscles flexed.

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