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Macomb, Oakland County Tour Highlights Auto and Manufacturing Assets to National Site Selectors

Working with key public partners, the Detroit Regional Chamber recently co-hosted five national site selectors for a firsthand look at the automotive and advanced manufacturing assets of Macomb and Oakland counties. The two-day tour was part of the Chamber’s ongoing effort to build relationships with site selectors and inform them of the region’s assets as they assist global companies in deciding where to locate.

Hosted in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development and Oakland County Department of Economic Development and Community Affairs, the group toured the recently opened research and technical campus of Durr Systems in Southfield. The company, which manufactures and supplies robots for automotive and industrial paint and sealing, invested $40 million in a 200,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, where they now employ over 480 people.

During the tour, site selectors spoke with Bruno Welsch, president and CEO of Durr Systems, about the company’s decision to stay in Oakland County making a long-term commitment to the region. In addition, the site selectors met with representatives from other automotive, aerospace and advanced manufacturing companies that recently expanded in Macomb and Oakland counties including: Baker Aerospace and Machining Inc., Paslin, P3 North America and Valiant International Inc.

“Hosting prominent, well-respected site selectors like this is a key activity in showcasing what the Detroit region has to offer to global businesses,” said Justin Robinson, the Chamber’s vice president of business attraction. “The more site selectors are aware of this area’s skilled technical workforce and density of advanced manufacturing strengths, the greater ability they have to make the case for investment.”

Brian Bilger, senior business development representative for the Chamber, said collaborative efforts like the tour offer potential investors a more holistic narrative of what’s happening across Southeast Michigan.

“Our local partners are the ones who know what’s going on at the ground level in their communities and who can help drill down that information — whether it be labor and talent, or the number of college graduates with a certain type of degree or certification,” he said.

The No. 1 priority for site selectors? Labor.

“Where it once was all about location, location, location, we’re seeing a shift in the conversation … ‘Where do you find the workers with the proper skill sets?’ and ‘How do you retain your talent?’ It’s a huge issue,” Bilger said, adding that perception, particularly in manufacturing, also plays a role.

“(Manufacturing) looks different today more than it did even five or 10 years ago. You are not just putting the widget in the machine and pushing a button,” Bilger added. “Manufacturers need the advanced skill set of programmers, designers, and IT professionals.”

Throughout the coming year, the Chamber will host similar visits in coordination with its local economic development partners to help national and international businesses explore, locate and invest in the united 11-county Detroit region.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page. For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at 313.596.0352.