Detroit chamber launches online data dashboard

March 31, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

Dustin Walsh

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The Detroit Regional Data Center, created by Austin, Texas-based Headlight Data, provides economic, workforce, education and demographic data for the 11-county region — Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair, Genesee, Monroe, Washtenaw, Lenawee and Shiawassee. The website is designed to be used by economic development officials, businesses and the general public to access continuously updated economic indicators.

“We wanted to bring our business community a tool they can use on a daily basis to make more informed decisions on their business and community efforts,” said Angela Ladetto, director of business research for the chamber. “While there’s no forecasting in it, it provides a good snapshot on segments of our economy and demographics that can help make their work easier.”

Ladetto also stressed that the updated industry and employment data is useful to students and job seekers looking to identify which industries and occupations are growing as well as for site selectors and grant writers.

The tool tracks anything from employment by county to average salary by industry to housing permits. The data is automatically updated as government institutions and research firms release findings, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Brookings Institution, etc.

The Detroit Regional Partnership, the regional economic development collaborative that spun out of the Detroit Regional Chamber earlier this year, is funding 20 percent of the tool, chamber CEO Sandy Baruah said. Detroit will be the largest region in the country to have a portal like this available.

“Anyone with an economic development role is using data quite a bit,” Baruah said. “This is partly public service, partly as we view ourselves of the keepers of regional data.”

To view the data, visit detroitdatacenter.org.

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Positioning the Detroit Region as the Future Home of Amazon’s HQ2

With Detroit’s revitalization fresh on the minds of the business community, there is no better time to leverage the region’s world-class talent, assets and resources to attract leading global companies. With Amazon’s recent announcement to build a second headquarters, the Detroit Regional Chamber is doing just that.

A Collaborative Effort

As reported in the Detroit Free Press, the Chamber, along with the city of Detroit and the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is leading a broad coalition of business and government leaders to establish a proposal to make the case for Amazon’s expansion to the Detroit region. Through its best-in-class economic development expertise, the Chamber is well-suited to lead this effort.

From its annual State of the Region report to its automotive and mobility asset map and interactive Data Center, regional and statewide economic development partners often look to the Chamber to provide key information to site selectors and businesses interested in the Southeast Michigan market. Collectively, these assets provide an impactful tool for business attraction.

Read the latest stats and data presented by Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah to justify Detroit’s position as a contender for Amazon’s HQ2 in a letter to the editor published in Crain’s Detroit Business.


MORE: Read the latest stats and facts about how Michigan is positioned to lead the world in next-generation mobility.


Well-Positioned to Compete

Key to the coalition’s success in positioning Southeast Michigan as an ideal location for Amazon’s HQ2 will be meeting Amazon’s preferences and decision drivers as laid out in the request for proposal – namely real estate availability, incentives and a strong labor force.

  • According to the Chamber’s 2017 State of the Region, Detroit has availability of industrial and commercial real estate across the region.
  • Michigan’s business-friendly climate bodes well for economic incentives, from the recently passed “Good Jobs for Michigan” legislation, to the MI Thrive collection of bills incentivizing the redevelopment of transformational brownfields projects.
  • Detroit’s rich labor pool exceeds 2.5 million individuals, larger than 28 other states.
  • It is one of the fastest growing technology regions, leading peer regions in STEM occupation job growth at more than 18 percent since 2010.
  • The Detroit Metropolitan Airport is a world-class facility, recently being ranked No. 1 in business travel.
  • Detroit is an international gateway to business around the world. The region is one of the strongest export markets in the nation, especially with its ideal proximity to the Canadian market.

These are just a few of the ways the Detroit region is a standout contender for Amazon’s headquarters project.

The Chamber will continue to be the voice of business and will monitor the developments.

Cleveland Site Selectors: Data Center Legislation Driving Investor Interest in Southeast Michigan

Through its effort to educate national site selectors about the Detroit region’s world-class manufacturing assets and talent, the Detroit Regional Chamber, together with its public partners, took its message on the road to meet with site selectors in Cleveland in September.

The trip, held in conjunction with Ann Arbor SPARK, DTE Energy, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), builds on the Chamber’s goal of promoting the region in secondary markets across the country. In addition to information gathering, the team also met with 21 site consultants from seven firms representing clients in industrial and manufacturing industries that are considering expanding into the Michigan market.

“We’re seeing a big need for areas that accommodate everything from skilled trades to food manufacturing. That’s right in our wheelhouse,” said Brian Bilger, senior representative for business development at the Chamber.

One of the biggest interests, however, is in Michigan’s tax-reform legislation that gives data centers an exemption on sales and use taxes. The legislation’s passage in 2015 was a key collaborative effort between the Chamber, The Right Place, and the MEDC.

“That legislation takes out all the uncertainty for site selectors working with data center clients and puts Michigan at top of mind for prospective investors,” Bilger said.

Economic development collaboration, led by the Chamber, remains a hallmark for the 11-county region, said Justin Sprague, director of business development for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.

“The Flint & Genesee Chamber was pleased to join the Detroit Regional Chamber and other local economic development partners representing the Detroit region in Cleveland. Through this partnership, we were able to … develop valuable relationships that can help drive economic growth throughout Flint and Genesee County. We look forward to participating in many more missions in the near future in collaboration with the Chamber,” Sprague said.

Bilger said the Chamber and its partners are following up with four companies considering Southeast Michigan.

“The good news is that we’re seeing more awareness about Detroit’s economic comeback and questions on what’s going on in that space,” Bilger said.

In the coming months, the Chamber team is evaluating a site selector trip to Greenville, S.C.

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.