Through Forward Detroit, More Than 900 Jobs, $179 Million Invested in Region During Past Year

Forward Detroit, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s economic development strategy, continues to play a key role impacting the Detroit region’s long-term growth by attracting major companies, increasing business investment and creating jobs.

From July 2016 through June 2017, the Chamber led the recruitment of 13 companies from across the globe to establish operations in the region. Executed in partnership with the Chamber’s coalition of regional economic development partners, these projects yielded a combined $179 million in capital investment and 957 new jobs, exceeding Forward Detroit’s annual goal.

Notable projects include:

In addition to the direct efforts of the Chamber, the regional economic development partnership of the 11 counties, city of Detroit, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy helped companies invest $4 billion in expansion and attraction projects and create 13,000 new jobs across the region in 2016.

“Economic development is a team sport. The investment and job creation we have seen over the past year is really a reflection of the dedicated work and collaboration of our public and private partners — organizations that are committed to the long-term growth of the Detroit region and ensuring the continued success of companies that choose to invest here,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of Business Attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The Chamber’s regional economic development partnership known as Destination Detroit includes: Genesee County, Lapeer County, Lenawee County, Livingston County, Macomb County, Monroe County, Oakland County, Shiawassee County, St. Clair County, Washtenaw County, Wayne County, the city of Detroit, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy. Destination Detroit is an initiative of Forward Detroit.

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

Michigan House, Senate Pass ‘Good Jobs for Michigan’ Legislation

Today, Michigan legislators passed the “Good Jobs for Michigan” bill package, Senate Bills 242-244. This is one of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s legislative priorities as the government relations team has continuously urged legislators to adopt all three bills. A leading regional economic development organization, the Chamber leveraged its influential public policy voice as a key advocate for the legislation’s passage.

“The Chamber is thankful for the leadership of Governor Snyder and the Legislature to create this policy that will allow Michigan to compete with every state in the nation for job growth,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.


MORE: Read the Chamber’s testimony to the House Policy Committee in support of House Bills 242-244.


Under the legislation, business expansions or new locations that create a minimum of 500 new jobs and pay wages at 100 percent or more of the regional average wage would be eligible to capture up to 50 percent of the personal income tax withholdings of the new employees for up to five years. In addition, business expansions or new locations that create a minimum of 250 new jobs and pay wages at 125 percent or more of the regional average wage would be eligible to capture up to 100  percent of the personal income tax withholdings of the new employees for up to 10 years. There is a cap of 15 projects per year with a rolling cap of $250 million for all projects.

“The passage of this legislation creates a vital tool as the Chamber travels the nation and globe to attract companies to grow in our region,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

This is the Chamber’s second major economic development victory in the state this year, following the MIThrive package that will incentivize transformational brownfield developments in cities across the state.

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 Hamilton at mhamilton@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

‘Michigan Matters’ Focus: Building Bridges To China

Michigan Matters

By CBS Detroit

March 29, 2017

Hong Lei, Consul General of China’s Chicago office which covers the Midwest including Michigan, talks about the importance of the Great Lakes state on “Michigan Matters” airing this Sunday.

He is the 10th Consul General of China in Chicago and new to the job.

He appeared along with Carol Cain, Senior Producer/Host of CBS 62’s “Michigan Matters” to discuss bi-lateral trade between the Asian Nation and Michigan.

“I’m committed to joining hands with people of all circles in this region to promote our mutually beneficial cooperation and people-to-people friendly exchanges, and thus contribute to building a new model of major power relations between China and U.S,” he said.Automotive, agriculture and tourism are some of the areas Michigan has been touting to the huge Asian nation.

The Consult General also talks about how China sees Michigan.

Then, Lisa Gray, Chair of the North American Chinese Coalition, Justin Robinson, Vice President of Business Attraction at the Detroit Regional Chamber, and Peter Theut, Chair of China Bridge, continues the conversation about the importance of Michigan and China.

Theut, a lawyer, has been to China over 50 times and doing business there for decades. Robinson also has been to China dozens of times and is helping the chamber with its global efforts. And Gray, who resides in Metro Detroit, is building two way economic bridges through her efforts.

View the original article here: http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2017/03/29/michigan-matters-focus-building-bridges-to-china/

Under Construction: Michigan’s Build-To-Suit Market

By Paul Vachon

Several years into Michigan’s economic recovery has provided the business community with a unique perspective: One that has begun to show the fruit of years of rightsizing, innovating and reimagining their mission. The return of a healthy economy has cleared away excess inventories and set the stage for new expansion.

Despite significant industry diversification, however, automotive and manufacturing dominates Southeast Michigan, which makes the status of the industrial real estate market a key indicator of economic health. According to a recent report by Colliers International, the region’s overall vacancy rate stands at 4 percent — a historic low.

Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction at the Detroit Regional Chamber, attributed this durability to a strong local economy and not just to the routine swing of the market pendulum.

Fraza“Right now, the market looks stable for the next several years. One factor is that during the last downturn many of the older, more inefficient buildings were demolished, thus removing that space from the market,” Robinson said. “These were mostly legacy buildings constructed from the 1950s to the 1970s that had been home to OEMs and tier one suppliers. The market has thus been rightsized, so even if it were to experience a downturn, I don’t think it would have a significant impact.”

Despite the tight supply, new space is being added slowly and cautiously, with build-to-suit as the predominate mode of construction. Industry experts say that this is due to a low appetite for risk on the part of many investors.

This approach has both pros and cons, Moran explained. A big disadvantage is the lead time involved with these types of projects. A company opening a new plant generally wants to be up and running within six to nine months, a realistic timetable if a preexisting building can be found. However, Robinson said the schedule for a build-to-suit project is much more time consuming.

“An average building can take as much as 18 months to deliver by the time you identify the site, address potential brownfield issues, get the infrastructure in the ground and put up the structure,” he said.

“This type of timeline can be difficult for many companies.” Robinson pointed out that in other major metropolitan areas, speculative building is common, but its relative scarcity in Southeast Michigan often forces tenants to be creative.

“They might have to take an older or smaller structure and modify it to meet their needs,” Robinson said. An advantage to the build-to-suit option is the ability for the client to specify features that will meet his or her unique needs and operate at maximum efficiency.

As Moran explained, some examples might include a minimal floor thickness to support heavy equipment, steel framing strong enough to accommodate overhead cranes or other equipment, and a sufficient HVAC system that meets state and federal regulations.

As the overall market matures, developers report that build-to-suit options are becoming more specialized. Ryan Dembs, CEO of Dembs Development in Farmington Hills, said that while his company’s build-to- suit volume is increasing, much of it is for technology-related companies. Dembs said his company does do a limited number of on-spec buildings and anticipates other developers will gradually fall in line as their confidence level increases. One developer that recently resumed embracing speculative development is New York-based Ashley Capital, which builds and manages industrial real estate throughout the eastern United States and has an office in Canton.

“In Michigan, we manage 18 to 20 million square feet, the clear majority of which is space we built on greenfields or brownfields, or existing, often blighted, buildings we renovated. In both cases, we worked without a tenant in hand and subsequently leased the buildings out,” said Susan Harvey, senior vice president at Ashley Capital.

“We’re just finishing our first speculative project since the end of the Great Recession, on the site of the Hazel Park Raceway, a 575,000-square-foot building,” she added. For Ashley Capital and others, the gradual emergence from the recession has been fraught with obstacles.

“Lending practices have changed, and it’s gotten more difficult for developers to put together deals for spec buildings,” Harvey said. She does, however, express cautious optimism for the future both locally and throughout the nation.

Paul Vachon is a metro Detroit freelance writer.

Read more from this issue below: 

Detroit-Area Developers Choose to Reuse

Dan Gilbert Taking Detroit to Overdrive

The Ilitch Touch: Transforming Detroit’s Downtown

 

 

Economic Development Experts: Detroit’s Reinvention Must Extend to Neighborhoods

With development showing no signs of slowing, engaging Detroiters in thoughtful dialogue on the city’s long-term vision and building up neighborhoods is necessary to continue Detroit’s momentum panelists said in the session, “Strengthening Detroit: Partners in Economic Development.”

Citing the recently announced plans to create more public parkland on the city’s east riverfront development, Maurice Cox, planning director for the city of Detroit, said the decision to forego building more high-end apartments and condos followed extensive conversations with the public.

“The riverfront is home to an enormous diversity of people who use it. Our thought was that we need to give the riverfront back to the people. Private development will shape it, but the people will have an impact,” Cox said.

The topic kicked off a conversation on thoughtful inclusion and shared opportunity as projects come online across the city.
Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones said she would like to see more jobs for longtime residents who weathered the city’s economic collapse.

“We need to get our young people involved in the development taking place. It’s a great opportunity for those who want to do something downtown but in the communities as well,” Jones said, calling for more apprenticeship programs.

Moddie Turay, executive vice president of real estate and financial services for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., added that the city’s economic progress must go beyond downtown and Midtown to truly be considered a renaissance.

32394390513_e732d2e104_o“There’s a lot that’s happening here. We’re just not there yet,” Turay said. “We have another five or so years to go.”

Cox said leaders should consider development taking place downtown as a “both and” scenario, suggesting that catalytic projects such as The District Detroit and the riverfront can be leveraged to positively impact downtown and the neighborhoods.

“The soul of this city is its neighborhoods. The heart of a city inadvertently always happens at its core and grows out. The challenge is a lot of American cities forget about the soul and forget about the neighborhoods.”


MORE: Read more about the innovative work that is being done to ensure Detroit’s comeback continues. 


That is not the case in the Motor City, Cox said, pointing to development taking place at anchor institutions like University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College that is helping create full-scale neighborhood recovery north of Six Mile Road.

In answering a question on the importance of talent, Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber, said it is the No. 1 asset investors from other states and countries look for when deciding to relocate.

“The availability, volume and quality of talent is a key part in attracting business. To do that, you have to have the neighborhoods that talent wants to live in,” he said. “When we have that, we’ll see the economic development flow in as a result.”

“There’s tremendous progress being made in Southeast Michigan and it’s important to understand that companies are looking at the labor of not just one community; they are looking at an entire region. We need to be better at communicating how Detroit and the region are collaborating around creating that workforce,” Robinson added.

Panelists also acknowledged that the business climate, including taxes and regulation, still is not as attractive as it could be, with Cox and Jones addressing the impact of the community benefits agreement (CBA) ordinance Detroiters passed in November of last year.

Still, Cox said: “We need to give it time to play out.”

Read more from the 2017 Detroit Policy Conference:

Christopher Ilitch: Teamwork, Collaboration Will Guide Detroit’s Bright Future

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.

Global Automotive Forum Offers Insight Into Future of Mobility Industry in China

As part of a strategic effort to learn more about Chinese automotive market trends and strengthen existing industry relationships, the Detroit Regional Chamber traveled to Chongqing, China in June to participate in the 2016 Global Automotive Forum. The three-day trip provided an opportunity to share the current state of the auto industry in Michigan with leading Chinese industry executives, as well as explore developments in electric vehicle manufacturing and the connected and autonomous vehicle landscape in China.

The trip builds on the Chamber’s longstanding relationship with the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and was conducted in partnership with the Michigan Automotive Industry Office and Michigan-China Innovation Center.

While abroad, Justin Robinson, the Chamber’s vice president of Business Attraction, attended several events around the show and participated in a panel discussion on doing business with the Michigan automotive industry attended by representatives from Chinese suppliers. Kevin Kerrigan, senior adviser for automotive initiatives at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), also led a panel discussion on connected and autonomous vehicle development and electric vehicle development for over 600 attendees.

Robinson said a key takeaway from the trip was the stark difference between the two countries on a next-generation mobility strategy and current progress by our respective domestic suppliers in this space.

“While the U.S. has made a pretty full pivot into connected and autonomous technology, China’s priority still seems to be focused on new energy/electric vehicle development,” he said. “We are roughly a couple years further along in the connected mobility discussion with the exception of a very small number of leading Chinese automotive and technology firms.”

That’s where Michigan’s numerous research and development and vehicle testing assets, such as the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, will benefit the state and country in the long-term, Robinson said.

“How can Chinese companies keep up with the technology demands of both new energy and connected and autonomous vehicle markets? Most of the Chinese OEMs and suppliers don’t have the dollars to invest in that type of research and development. It will be interesting to see how that plays out,” Robinson said.

Other key takeaways:

  • Chongqing is China’s largest manufacturing base. The city has an annual auto capacity production of 4 million vehicles with Chang’an and Ford Motor Co. making up a large percentage of this capacity.
  • Chinese brands held over 30 percent share of the Chinese passenger auto market in 2015.
  • Chinese industry execs know that the country must transform its smart mobility strategy as the industry continues to rapidly develop due to disruptive technologies. The challenge is that China’s domestic auto industry lags behind the world’s auto powers in terms of development levels, professional expertise and other related criteria.

In addition to the Automotive Forum, the Chamber and MEDC traveled to Chengdu, China in support of Michigan’s sister state, Sichuan Province. While there, the team met with Sichuan government leaders and a small number of Chinese OEM and Tier 1 suppliers with a focus on electric and autonomous technology.

As a follow up, the Chamber assisted with the hosting of the Executive Vice Governor of Sichuan to the Detroit region at the end of June featuring 80 delegates from government, industry, education and tourism. The visit was anchored by a reception hosted by Gov. Rick Snyder, and a tour of the city hosted by the Chamber featuring delegation representatives and Sichuan Executive Vice Gov. Wang Ning.

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.

October 2, 2012: Regional Transit Crucial to Regional Economy; Chamber Returns from Gov.’s Trade Mission in China

Regional Transit Crucial to Regional EconomyDetroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah co-wrote an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press last week with U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI 9) and metro Detroit American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations President Chris Michalakis on the importance of a system of regional transit to the regional economy.

Baruah, Peters and Michalakis outline their commitment to encouraging the passage of legislation that would create a regional transit authority (RTA) and discuss the importance of overcoming partisan lines to invest in the future of the region and ultimately create thousands of new jobs. The federal government is poised to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a transit project, contingent upon the creation of an RTA. To read the full article, click here.

Detroit Regional Chamber Returns From Governor’s Trade Mission in ChinaRepresentatives from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Business Attraction program organized Governor Rick Snyder’s trade mission to China along with the State of Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation last month at the Governor’s request. The delegation met with government officials and business leaders in cities including Guiyang and Hangzhou in order to strengthen relationships, expand exports and attract new investment to Michigan. While there, the MEDC signed a cooperation agreement with the Guiyang Department of Commerce to foster partnerships between their respective communities and businesses. The Chamber’s MICHauto program played a pivotal role in helping to secure meetings for Gov. Snyder throughout the trip with Chinese automotive suppliers who have foreign direct investment potential.

The Chamber’s Business Development Representative, Justin Robinson, blogged about the experience throughout the weeklong trip. Click here to read his blog and view photos. The Chamber also participated in the Governor’s trade mission to Europe in March and to Asia in September of 2011.

Chamber’s Connection Point Director Named Crain’s Detroit Business’ 40 Under 40 The Detroit Regional Chamber congratulates Connection Point Program Director Trevor Pawl for being named one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ 40 Under 40. This selection designated Pawl as one of the best and brightest in Southeast Michigan who exemplifies brainpower, creativity and business savvy that can help rebuild the region. He will be honored for this award at a ceremony on October 24.

Pawl joined the Chamber in January of 2011 to help launch the Connection Point program and has helped to bring in more than $200 million in quotation opportunities to Michigan companies during his tenure. For more information on Connection Point, click here. To read more about Pawl’s award and accomplishments, click here.

Celebrate Exceptional Leaders at the 2012 Leadership Detroit Awards, October 11Please join the Detroit Regional Chamber for the 2012 Leadership Detroit Awards on October 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. on the M@dison Building rooftop in Detroit, as several exceptional leaders are honored for their work to create positive change in the community. Selected from over 1,500 alumni, these individuals epitomize the spirit of lifelong leadership and will share their insights on leadership and community involvement.

This year’s winners of the Emerging Leadership Award are members of the Leadership Detroit XXXII Race and Reconciliation Committee, including: Alicia Alvarez, University of Michigan; Leslie Andrews, Rock Ventures, LLC; Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, DTE Energy; Gerald Chiddick, Amerisure Insurance Company; Scott Alan Davis, Vanguard Community Development Corporation; Al-Azhar Pacha, ALPAC, Inc.; Gina Polley, Legal Aid & Defender Association; Sharnita C. Johnson, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; and Mary Jo Larson, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP. Also being recognized are Elizabeth Barton, LD XXIX, of The Waverly Group-Midwest, LLC for the Inspirational Leader Award and Faye Nelson, LD XIII, of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Inc. for the Lifelong Leadership Award. For more information or to register to attend, click here.

Celebrate Entrepreneurship with TiEcon Midwest 2012Join the Detroit Regional Chamber in celebrating the passion and perseverance of entrepreneurs around the world as they sponsor TiEcon Midwest 2012 on October 11-12 at the Sheraton Detroit Novi. Connect with over 3,000 participants and engage in rich dialogue with a dynamic group of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, industry executives and thought-leaders over two full days of networking, inspiring talks and idea sharing. To learn more or to register, click here.

Chamber Staff Help Build Playground at Detroit Innovation AcademyLast month, several members of the Detroit Regional Chamber staff joined the YMCA in building a new playground for the students at the Detroit Innovation Academy in Detroit to ensure students have a new, safe place to play and stay active. The project had more than 225 volunteers who successfully built the playground from the ground up in one day. To view pictures from the day, visit the Chamber’s Facebook page, here.