Taiwanese Delegation Gets Up-Close Look at Detroit Region’s Innovation During NAIAS

Continuing to share the message of the automotive industry resurgence and a growing tech boom in the Detroit region, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with the Michigan-China Innovation Center, hosted a delegation of 21 Taiwanese experts in the field of semiconductors and electronics as part of outreach efforts during the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

Delegates heard an overview of the region’s assets from Justin Robinson, vice president of Business Attraction for the Chamber, as well as an overview of Michigan’s strategic leadership in automotive from Courtney Henderson, business development manager of the Michigan-China Innovation Center. Mark Heusel of Dickinson Wright offered insight on common legal questions regarding doing business in the United States. During a Q&A, delegates expressed interest in expanding into the Detroit and Michigan as a key market for growth among the Taiwanese semiconductor industry.

Destination Detroit, a key initiative of the Chamber’s Forward Detroit economic development strategy, is focused on attracting businesses from around the world to the Detroit region. The delegation visit is one of several events the Chamber participates in throughout the auto show to promote Detroit and Michigan’s story to a global audience.

New ‘Driven’ Online Publication Offers One-Stop Shop to Tell Region’s Mobility Story

This week, the Detroit Regional Chamber and its regional economic development partners launched a new online publication, Driven, which is devoted to telling the story of the Detroit region’s mobility assets and leadership.

“Realizing the next-generation mobility story and our leadership in the industry was not one that was actively being told in a singular place, we came together collectively to highlight our strengths as a region,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Chamber. “We are working together to engage our local partners and the region’s mobility leaders to advance the narrative through the lens of how metro Detroit is leading the global race towards next-generation mobility.”

Publication partners include: Ann Arbor SPARK, city of Detroit, Destination Detroit, Detroit Regional Chamber, MICHauto, Macomb and Oakland counties, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s PlanetM initiative. Read and learn more about Driven at: www.DetroitDriven.us.

Detroit Named ‘Freightliner Trucks Hardest Working City’ for Manufacturing Excellence, Economic Growth

By Daniel Lai

With efforts underway to position Detroit as the premier location for Amazon’s HQ2, the city’s latest accolade sends a clear message to the retail giant: Detroit’s innovation economy is powered by an unrivaled manufacturing workforce.

On Wednesday, Freightliner Trucks awarded the city its “Hardest Working Cities” designation. The award recognizes cities across North America that are fueling economic growth as determined by an exhaustive review of approximately 400 metropolitan census areas across 11 different key economic performance indicators, including unemployment rate, infrastructure investment, and contribution to total gross domestic product.

Detroit was recognized as one of the leading cities in North America for manufacturing employment. It is also among:

  • The top 10 percent of cities for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and light truck and delivery
  • The top 10 percent of cities for number of transportation establishments
  • The top 15 percent of cities for contribution to U.S. gross domestic product
  • The top 20 percent of cities for construction employment

“The city of Detroit is near and dear to Freightliner because of the legendary Detroit engines and drivetrains that power our trucks,” said Allan Haggai, marketing communications manager for Freightliner Vocational Trucks.

Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber, accepted the award on behalf of the business community during an event at Detroit Diesel Corporation.

“The Detroit Regional Chamber proudly accepts this honor and recognition on behalf of the region’s business community. As Freightliner’s ‘Hardest Working City,’ this award celebrates the people and industries powering the Detroit region’s economy and builds on our rich history of driving innovation, developing word-class talent and creating high-quality jobs in order to compete and win in the 21st century global economy,” Robinson said.

Since its inception, the award has recognized 10 cities across North America: Dallas, Des Moines, Edmonton, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Toronto.

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 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.

‘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.