Stacey Abrams to speak at Mackinac Policy Conference

March 14, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

Anisa Jibrell

Political activist Stacey Abrams of Georgia is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech on the nation’s current political landscape at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference in May.

The annual Mackinac Policy Conference, which runs May 28-31 on Mackinac Island, includes a roster of influential names in local politics and community leadership. The event is platform to discuss topics such as mobility, economic development and education.

View the full article here

2019 Legislative Priorities Focus on Growing the Detroit Region

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors recently adopted its legislative priorities for 2019. These 14 priorities, which are critical to economic development and growth of the region, include investing in infrastructure, support for a reliable regional transit system, maintaining a pro-growth tax structure, and creating pathways to postsecondary education and careers, among many other pro-business policy issues. This year’s priorities are aligned with the five pillars that guide the Chamber’s economic development strategy to position the region for global competitiveness.

 People:

  • Maintain a pro-growth tax structure that allows Michigan to compete globally for business and talent.
  • Encourage smart spending policies and long-term budgeting that prioritizes fiscal solvency.
  • Maintain a regulatory climate that is conducive to Michigan’s growing economy.
  • Support reforms for Michigan’s criminal justice system that reduce lengthy and costly sentences and provide age-appropriate rehabilitation.
  • Support policies that expand employment opportunities for chronically underemployed populations.

Community:

  • Increase dedicated infrastructure funding and lead efforts to prioritize regional transit options for the Detroit region.
  • Encourage regional policies that are consistent with state and federal law and balance local needs with economic growth.
  • Promote policies that increase access to health insurance while opposing policies that drive up costs for employers and individuals.

Talent:

  • Maintain rigorous K-12 standards that allow students to succeed in the global economy.
  • Create greater accountability for quality and siting in charter schools.
  • Increase postsecondary education attainment through policies such as increased dual enrollment and expanded, need-based financial aid.

Global Connectivity:

  • Create pathways to career opportunities in the automotive industry that develop high-skilled talent, including support for immigration reform and the attraction of international students.
  • Promote smart trade policy, including continued USMCA participation and resisting short-sighted trade restrictions or tariffs that inhibit growth.

Next-Generation Mobility:

  • Support policies that allow Michigan to continue to lead in research and development testing for next generation mobility solutions and other emerging industry sectors.

 

Site Selection Magazine Names Detroit Regional Chamber Top Economic Development Group

DETROIT (May 7, 2018) – The Detroit Regional Chamber has been named a “Top Economic Development Group,” a Mac Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development to be featured in the leading national economic development publication, Site Selection magazine. This year’s award winners will be featured in the May 2018 issue.

“Strategic partnerships and regional collaboration have helped power Detroit’s renaissance and are setting the stage for long-term prosperity,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Our team markets the Detroit region to global businesses as a premier destination to grow, innovate and compete.”

Site Selection magazine determined “Top Group” agencies by assessing their 2017 business attraction success. Metrics evaluated included: new facilities according to per capita and total capital investment, as well as per capita and total new jobs created. Additional criteria included creativity of economic development strategy, depth and breadth of project activity, ability to generate breakthrough deals, and the ability to document the contributions of the economic development organization to project results.

The Chamber has a long history of attracting global companies to the Detroit region. Recent projects include ArcelorMittal, a $83.5 million investment; Fuyao Glass, a $66.3 million investment; and creation of the PlanetM Landing Zone, which attracts global mobility companies to Detroit.

 

ArcelorMittal Sees its Future in an Old Detroit Plant

By: Paul Eisenstein

Driving through the old neighborhood on Detroit’s east side there’s a good chance you’d barely  notice the 92-year-old brick building, just one of many ancient factories left over from another era when Detroit was the indisputable center of the automotive universe. Slow down a bit and you might realize something dramatic is happening there – and at several other old plant sites nearby.

Originally opened in 1926 by the R.C. Mahon Co., a specialty steel producer, the 313,000 square-foot factory has come back to life to serve much the same purpose, albeit today producing state-of-the-art tailored blanks and other products for ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel manufacturer.

“In five years, you won’t know the area.It’s changing, and changing for the better,” says Mike Clark, the director of purchasing for the ArcelorMittal subsidiary, as he points to all the redevelopment efforts going on nearby, even the old party store across the street undergoing a renovation.

ArcelorMittal operates a similar factory in Ohio, but having experienced 30 percent growth for its specialty unit in the past two years, it recognized the need to add another plant. It looked at an assortment of sites in the Great Lakes region before settling on the Mt. Elliott factory.

Some of the advantages were obvious, including Detroit’s available and well-trained workforce, and “this is where our customers are,” ArcelorMittal supplying specialty metal products to all of the Detroit Big Three, as well as a Who’s-Who of imports.  Meanwhile, the Luxembourg-based steelmaker also had to deal with a compressed timetable, just 13 months to get a new factory into production.

Clark is quick to give much of the credit for making that possible to the Detroit Regional Chamber. “They aligned us with the right people to make it more favorable than any other location, among other things helping line up city and state incentives, including funding to improve the stretch of road between the plant and I-94.”

“They gave us the green-light,” he says, adding that the steelmaker was happy with what the Chamber pulled together.

In an era when many manufacturers prefer to move to the suburbs and build from the ground up, Clark said that it made much more sense for ArcelorMittal to move into the old factory. True, it took extensive renovation effort, but even after pumping in $40 million – the owner of the property kicking in another $10 million – the numbers made sense, especially with the short deadline for meeting new production contracts.

“Investments like ArcelorMittal’s in the Detroit region are what our organization strives for every day,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We are actively out recruiting companies with the best technology that can help drive our core industries forward. The Chamber’s business attraction efforts seek to communicate to companies the advantages of locating to our region and then we connect them with the real estate, incentives, services and partners they will need to bring their project to fruition in our community, ultimately putting more of our residents to work.”

Economic development is a team sport and this project relied on tremendous additional support from DTE Energy, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the City of Detroit to get it across the finish line.

ArcelorMittal is still ramping up operations at the Detroit plant – which includes not only the manufacturing shop, a metrology and metal research lab, and a variety of sales and executive management offices. The first-year target is to create 84 jobs – but that could be exceeded, Clark notes. Sales for the specialty unit hit $158 million in 2017 and the forecast is that they will reach $258 million by 2019.

The company is already looking to the future, its three-to-five-year North American plan calling for additional expansion. Though it did sign a 15-year lease, the company hasn’t locked down longer-term plans. That said, Clark said he is upbeat that, by working with the Chamber, the stars may again fall into alignment favoring further expansion in the city of Detroit.

PlanetM Landing Zone Amps up in First 90 Days, No Sign of Slowing Down

Logo for Planet M Landing Zone

Ninety days since the official launch of the PlanetM Landing Zone, efforts to attract and connect global mobility startups to the Detroit region are moving rapidly, with 18 global mobility startups, three Tier 1 OEM partners and a venture capital firm actively engaging at WeWork Merchant’s Row. The Chamber launched the PlanetM Landing Zone in October 2017, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Connection Point for Global Mobility Startups

This first-of-its-kind space creates a physical entry point for startups and businesses to share and collaborate to drive innovation in next-generation mobility.

Global startups such as DriveSmart, based out of Madrid, the first company in the world specializing in smart driving metrics; and DERQ, a Dubai-based MIT artificial intelligence spinoff, have set up a presence at the Landing Zone.

National startups are also engaging in the space including Mapbox, a location data company, and Spatial, the world’s first human-driven artificial intelligence platform and graduate of the Techstars Mobility accelerator program.

Ford Motor Company and two additional Tier 1 OEMs have signed on as industry partners to actively engage with member startup companies and explore their technology and potential partnerships. With the momentum and attention the Landing Zone has built up in the first 90 days, the opportunities to drive collaboration and innovation in Detroit position our region for strategic growth in the automotive, IT, and mobility sectors.

CES and North American International Auto Show Provide New Leads

From Las Vegas to Detroit, the Chamber started the new year engaging with global mobility and technology startups to promote the Detroit region’s automotive and mobility assets. The Chamber’s business attraction efforts from CES and the North American International Auto Show led to Mighty AI, a tech startup based out of Seattle, Wash. establishing a presence at the Landing Zone and a dozen other global startups considering memberships.

As membership continues to grow, the Landing Zone is actively exploring ways to connect startups to the resources they need to succeed in the region. In the next coming months, aside from networking and curated events, members will also be able to engage and connect through a mobile application, and will also have access to a catalog of legal, tax and human resources services to help grow their businesses.

For more information about the PlanetM Landing Zone or to engage, please visit www.planetmlandingzone.com.

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

Chamber’s Work to Grow Region’s Educated Workforce Backed by Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren

Last week, the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren endorsed the Detroit Regional Chamber’s plan to establish a regional Education Compact, a key step in ensuring that the region is educated, healthy and employed to compete in the 21st century global economy. The Compact will be led by the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative, with the support of a grant from The Kresge Foundation.

The endorsement was part of the Coalition’s action items under six priorities it released in a new report titled “Our Schools, Our Moment.” The report highlights areas that can be acted upon immediately by leaders across the public and private sectors to ensure success for all students.

Under the Chamber’s direction, the Detroit Drives Degrees Education Compact  will establish long-term goals and set key benchmarks in bolstering postsecondary readiness, access and success for Detroit students. This initiative represents a collective commitment by leaders in education, business, philanthropy, government and the nonprofit community to address an ongoing barrier to regional economic development – a lack of residents with higher education credentials or college degrees compared to peer regions across the country.

Currently in the beginning phases, Detroit Drives Degrees has begun to identify baseline data, create the Compact framework, and conduct economic analysis to determine education attainment needs through 2030. Steps to finalize the Compact agreement will take place over the next 18 months, with a signing ceremony slated for 2019.

“The goal of the Detroit Drives Degrees Education Compact will be to facilitate partnerships between K-12 stakeholders and postsecondary education institutions with a shared goal,” explained Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent for the Chamber. “It is needed to drive collective action in helping more students achieve their postsecondary goals. The Coalition voicing its support is an important step forward in this endeavor to increase student success.”

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, comprised of a diverse cross-section of business, civic, education, philanthropic, religious and community leaders, make the case that these six priorities ensure Detroit’s youth are educated to career- and college-ready standards. The Chamber’s Forward Detroit Strategy has aligned with the goals of the report and the Chamber is a key partner and business voice for the Coalition. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah serves as a steering committee member of the Coalition and has been involved from its inception.
The Coalition’s priorities outlined in the report include:

  1. Get Serious About Attendance – Students have to show up to learn.
  2. Choose Detroit – Getting students and educators to our schools.
  3. Learn to Read, Then Read to Learn – Reading by third grade is essential.
  4. Keep Pace with Detroit’s Economic Recovery – Give students multiple college and career pathways after high school.
  5. Fully Fund Special Education – State and federal action required.
  6. Expect Improved Cooperation and Accountability from Our Leaders – Shared responsibility means all schools working together.

Read and download the full report here.

Michigan’s economic growth is sustained by an educated workforce, which is why it is critical the business community be engaged and have a voice in the Coalition. Among the five co-chairs of the Coalition representing the business community are Chamber Executive Committee member John Rakolta Jr., president and CEO of Walbridge; and Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain for General Motors Co. Additional co-chairs include: Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation; Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch for the NAACP; and Angela Reyes, executive director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.

This report is the second released by the Coalition since its formation three years ago. The first report, “Choice Is Ours,” is targeted toward Lansing lawmakers regarding reforming Detroit Public Schools Community District.

For more information about Detroit Drives Degrees, an initiative of Forward Detroit, visit detroitdrivesdegrees.com.

Forward Detroit Quarterly Results

April–June 2017

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Forward Detroit strategy programs and initiatives reported the following results for the April to June 2017 quarter.

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Business Attraction team worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Oakland County and city of Troy to close a deal to bring the North American headquarters for Dutch automotive engineering service firm, VDL Steelweld to the region. The company leased a 50,000 square foot facility in Oakland County, investing $1.22 million in the region and adding 43 new jobs that pay an average of more than $100,000 annually.

Learn more about the Chamber’s Business Attraction efforts. 

 
MICHauto, an initiative of the Chamber, held a Legislative Supplier Fair and Reception and its annual Auto on the Island programming in May at the Mackinac Policy Conference. The fourth annual Supplier Fair and Reception connected more than a dozen suppliers with lawmakers to continue the discussion on the economic impact of suppliers across the state.

Continuing to bring the industry to the forefront of conversations, MICHauto hosted 35 industry CEOs on Mackinac Island for Auto on the Island. The challenges, opportunities, threats and weaknesses facing the automotive and mobility industry were discussed among the CEOs present as well as in a discussion with Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Mike Duggan. Automotive stakeholders also participated in an automotive roundtable discussion that focused on human capital in the digital age.

Learn more about MICHauto.

 In spring 2017, the Detroit Drives Degrees (D3) team launched two surveys to increase the Detroit region’s population by putting a greater focus on retaining existing residents and attracting new ones. The surveys resulted in 500 responses that will be used to further build out D3’s talent attraction and retention strategies.

To further communicate D3’s work in talent to a broader audience, Sarah Craft, program manager, sat on a panel for the Detroit Regional Relocation Council Quarterly Business Meeting, where she informed 50 national relocation professionals on Detroit’s assets and appeal. Additional panelists included: University Moving Storage’s Ben Cross; Center City Properties’ Michael Martorelli; Quicken Loans’ Dan Ngoyi; and Hall & Hunter’s Amy Zimmer.

At the May D3 Leadership Council meeting, the team brought together education experts from Cleveland to talk to the Council’s representatives in higher education, business, government, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector about a national model proven to improve student success. The goal of the discussion was to understand how Cleveland has successfully increased its educational attainment rate and how a similar model can be implemented in Detroit.

Learn more about Detroit Drives Degrees.

Read more about what the Forward Detroit initiatives accomplished:

Michigan’s Mobility Assets Key Topic of Netherlands Delegation Visit to Detroit

Detroit’s Tech, Automotive Leadership Takes Spotlight During Israel Mission Trip

MICHauto Roundtable: Technology Innovation Will Augment Workforce Transformation

Economic Impact of State’s Auto Suppliers Key Topic at Annual MICHauto Legislative Reception

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Awards $3.5 Million Grant to Detroit Promise to Help Students Pursue Higher Education

Detroit Drives Degrees Gleans Lessons from Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland to Increase Local Graduation Rates

Help Detroit Drives Degrees Attract and Retain Talent in Southeast Michigan

MICHauto Supports Student Entrepreneurs in Lear Open Innovation Challenge

Detroit’s Tech, Automotive Leadership Takes Spotlight During Israel Mission Trip

In a follow-up to a January fact-finding mission to Israel earlier this year led by Mark Davidoff, Michigan managing partner at Deloitte, and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with economic development representatives from Oakland County, returned to the country in May to meet with automotive and manufacturing companies looking to expand into the U.S. market.

“Following our fact-finding mission in January, we saw an opportunity in Israel beyond the country’s robust cybersecurity sector to the larger automotive technology landscape,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of Business Attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“Our Business Attraction program has made a shift to recruit more early-stage automotive technology companies and we are looking to the markets that we believe hold the greatest potential to bring that technology to Southeast Michigan — Israel and Silicon Valley,” he added.

The trip, which took place May 15-19, was timed to coincide with Ecomotion 2017, a worldwide conference focused on promoting knowledge-sharing among companies in the smart transportation sector (pictured).

During the week, the delegation held 25 one-on-one meetings with venture capital companies, automotive accelerators and startups, to glean information on how to best support Israeli companies that have an eye toward the North American market. Primarily, Robinson said companies expressed the need for better connections to OEMs (such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.) and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers.

“It was a great opportunity to listen and understand what we need to be doing as a region to better position ourselves to connect this new startup ecosystem with the established automotive ecosystem in Detroit,” he said.

There are roughly 6,000 startups in Israel today. As more pop up due to the country’s rich talent pool and government support for entrepreneurs, many companies are setting their sights to North America to scale their business quickly, Robinson said.

“Mobility is becoming one of the key areas of focus, which is a perfect opportunity for Michigan,” he said.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita S. Harris at mharris@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

IAMC Spring Forum: Taking a Closer Look at Industrial Real Estate Trends

Last month, the Detroit Regional Chamber, in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), represented our 11-county region at the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC) spring forum, “Industrial Real Estate in the 21st Century” in Tampa (pictured). IAMC is the leading association of industrial asset management and corporate real estate executives and site selection consultants in the United States.

The Chamber spent April 8-12 meeting with site selection consultants and real estate professionals to promote Michigan’s manufacturing and talent assets.

“What’s enticing to a lot of these site selectors working with clients in the manufacturing and automotive industries is our high concentration of engineering talent,” said Brian Bilger, senior business development representative for the Chamber. “Additionally we’re seeing a lot more positive word-of-mouth marketing about Detroit’s revitalization. Everyone is curious about the momentum surrounding self-driving cars taking place in Michigan.”

Both the opening of the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti next year and the state’s passage of the SAVE (Safe Autonomous Vehicles) Act give Michigan a leg up in the competition for talent and global investment, Bilger said.

“Attending events like IAMC are critical to putting Detroit and Michigan at the top of the list for site selectors,” he said. “Michigan has a lot of competition from Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio and Pennsylvania but when it comes down to it, the brainpower is here. The amount of engineering and IT students we have is a major advantage.”

The forum also helped shed insight on key issues and trends voiced by industrial real estate developers, such as a growing trend of big box store closures.

“What’s the impact on the community when these stores close? From an adaptive reuse perspective, do these empty buildings meet the needs of companies looking to expand? What types of incentives are available? These are all questions we have to get ahead of when site selectors come to us with a proposed project,” Bilger said.

Bilger said following the forum, the Chamber has remained in contact with site selectors representing companies from Chicago, Dallas, New Jersey and South Carolina that are exploring options in Michigan. Several are planning visits to Mcity in Ann Arbor and participating in the state’s familiarization tour in September, designed to build interest in Michigan’s manufacturing and industrial real estate market.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita S. Harris at mharris@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.