Industry experts emphasize talent needs and changing perceptions of automotive on “Autoline”

If you’re a mobility startup, you need to be in Detroit. That was the overarching consensus from an “Autoline” Supplier Symposium panel hosted by John McElroy at the 2018 North American International Auto Show on the show floor surrounded by newly unveiled vehicles Tuesday. McElroy discussed the transformational mobility ecosystem and importance of AutoMobili-D with Glenn Stevens, vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber and executive director of MICHauto; Chris Thomas, founding partner of Fontinalis Partners; and Alisyn Malek, chief operations officer for May Mobility.

Having the talent to compete in the race for connected technology is a key challenge industry leaders in Michigan face.

“Culture is how to attract talent. We are working really hard on the perception of the industry,” Stevens ensured.

Four years ago, MICHauto commissioned a survey of 900 students and adult influencers on their perceptions of the automotive industry and perceptions were not great. In December 2017, MICHauto released a second Automobility Career Perception Survey that showed an improvement in perceptions.

Stevens said this time around the survey included autonomous vehicles and mobility and moved the needle on automotive, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Malek echoed that sentiment and explained that her company has had no problem attracting talent to Ann Arbor because people know that is where the connections and opportunities exist.

“One of the exciting things we are working on is building our brand and name, but in Michigan with the work that MICHauto is doing, people are becoming more aware of the tech startups and the new job opportunities,” Malek explained.

Thomas agreed, crediting Techstars Mobility and the work Managing Director Ted Serbinski is doing in Detroit.

“We are seeing more funders stand up and want to be part of this,” he explained.

Thomas was one of the first venture capitalists in Detroit to invest in the mobility ecosystem and continues to spread the message that mobility is happening now and Detroit needs to continue to attract tech startups to stay ahead.

McElroy ended the panel on a positive note encouraging all three to keep moving the needle in this space.

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.

MICHauto Announces New Research Number, Michigan Home to 2,200 Automotive R&D Facilities

Michigan has long been regarded as the epicenter of the automotive industry and now the state has a new number to celebrate. First announced at the MICHauto Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with the 2017 MICHauto Summit, Michigan is home to 2,200 facilities that conduct automotive research, design, engineering, testing and validation.

The new number is the result of a thorough examination of Michigan’s automotive technical expertise conducted by the Detroit Regional Chamber and reveals a much larger presence than previously reported, reinforcing Michigan’s global leadership in automotive engineering, research and design. Previously, 375 automotive R&D facilities were frequently sourced as housed in Michigan by media as well as industry and government leaders.

The new number was announced by Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Chamber.

“The findings point to an industry that is growing and further underscores the critical need for talent development in automotive and mobility technology to support the needs of today and the future,” said Stevens.

Attendees also heard highlights from MICHauto’s 2017 Automobility Career Perception Survey, which examines the perception trends of 900 youth and influencers inside and outside of Michigan. Results show that, while perceptions of the industry are changing in Michigan, more work is needed to promote the state’s automotive and mobility leadership to youth and influencers in other states. View the survey summary here.

Additionally, MICHauto unveiled a new online content portal titled “Driven.” The site will shape and position the narrative surrounding automobility in Southeast Michigan, offering content relating to the people, assets and companies that are establishing the region and its automotive sector, as a global leader in next-generation mobility transportation.

Also during the Annual Meeting, Tim Yerdon, outgoing chair of MICHauto’s talent committee, was named this year’s “Volunteer of the Year” recipient.

“There is no better time to be in this industry than right now and I am so excited to be a part of it,” Yerdon said.

Yerdon was recognized for his efforts to showcase the industry’s growth through events like Discover Auto, which helps connect college students with leading automotive manufacturers and suppliers in need of talent.

The MICHauto Annual Meeting was sponsored by PwC.

Industry Experts: Latest Proposed Changes to NAFTA Are Red Flag for Automotive Supply Chain

As the fourth round of negotiations between Canada, the United States and Mexico surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) conclude, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with MICHauto and the Consulate General of Canada, hosted members of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association for an informative discussion on NAFTA’s potential impact on trade and economic growth for the U.S. and Canadian economies.

Anne Cascadden, trade commissioner for the Consulate General of Canada, said two of the biggest sticking points that are hindering negotiation efforts between the three countries revolve around the United States’ proposal that requires:

  • Any new agreement would sunset after five years and must be renegotiated
  • Rules of origin for automobiles would include 85 percent NAFTA-country product, up from 62.5 percent now, and 50 percent U.S.-made product in order to be exempt from tariffs

Cascadden said the U.S. proposal would greatly impact NAFTA supply chains. Specifically, steel, aluminum, copper, plastics, electronics, and other parts currently exempt would be required to come from North America for vehicles to qualify under rules of origin.

Other discussion participants included Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association; Xavier Mosquet, senior partner for The Boston Consulting Group; and Christopher Sands, senior research professor and director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

In welcoming remarks, Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said that Canada and Mexico are more in-tune with the economic ramifications of the United States’ potential withdrawal from the trade agreement, adding that any new agreement must first “do no harm” to the countries’ existing trade relationship. While not perfect, Baruah said NAFTA has been a major factor in North America’s competitiveness with the European Union.

Baruah has been a key voice regarding the NAFTA renegotiation and remains highly sought after for his expertise and insight at discussions in Michigan and Canada based on his current role at the Chamber and his past work in Washington, D.C.

The Mobility State: Bold Steps Needed to Maintain Michigan’s Leadership in CAV Development

By Kelly Weatherwax

Positioning Michigan as the global epicenter of automotive and mobility technology is essential for the state’s future. That was the key message expressed during Forward Detroit and MICHauto’s Investor Briefing: Why Michigan Needs to Own Leadership in Mobility in September.

“This is the biggest opportunity of this generation, if not the next two and Detroit is not moving fast enough,” explained Chris Thomas, founder and partner of Fontinalis Partners LLC, during his keynote presentation. “We have the resources to make sure we are creating the next billion-dollar companies here in our backyard and if we are only testing we will not be groundbreaking.”

Additional speakers included: David Palmer, director of business partnerships for the Workforce Intelligence Network, who shared the recently released “Regional Plan for Connected and Automated Transportation Systems Assets and Initiatives”; and Trevor Pawl, group vice president of PlanetM, Pure Michigan Business Connect, and International Trade for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The briefing was moderated by Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“What happened to the music industry with the iPod is poised to happen to the automotive industry with mobility if we do not capitalize on this moment in time,” urged Pawl.
Additional key takeaways from the briefing included:

  • Mobility is broader than we think about; autonomous vehicles are only one part of a larger picture that includes all modes of transportation: air, land and sea.
  • Cybersecurity for autonomous vehicles is a must have and cannot be an afterthought in the conversation.
  • The number of adults with postsecondary degrees in Detroit is lagging considerably and more work is needed to improve education outcomes.
  • The Detroit region needs more highly-skilled workers to fill open positions in the automotive industry, otherwise, companies will look elsewhere.
  • There are currently more patents coming out of Silicon Valley in automotive-related technologies than in Detroit. This is concerning since the core automotive industry is in Michigan.
  • From progressive legislation to the nation’s first connected construction zone, Michigan is leading, but to win the race in connected technology more needs to be done.

Kelly Weatherwax is the integrated marketing manager at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Automotive Experts: In Mobility Race, Michigan’s Leadership Dependent on Talent Access

By Carlotta Gmachl

Michigan is well-positioned to lead in the mobility race but risks losing its foothold without access to a pipeline of highly skilled talent and a renewed effort to attract entrepreneurs. That was a key message that automotive and technology leaders outlined during a panel discussion at the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) Annual Conference last week in Holland.

Led by Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, the panel “The Future of a Driverless Society” also included eLab Ventures’ Paul Brown, Warner Norcross & Judd’s Randall Peck, and InfiniteKey’s Kevin Virta.

Key takeaways include:

  • Talent remains the biggest challenge for startups in Michigan.
  • Most students are interested in joining big corporations and are overlooking their opportunity at a newly founded business. This is particularly true for engineers who are in high demand.
  • While Michigan excels in vehicle mass production, Silicon Valley is known for being strong in product development. Because of this, entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and Michigan see the opportunity to cooperate.
  • Amongst the biggest obstacles for Michigan entrepreneurs is the lack of an established entrepreneur community.
  • Taking risks requires a strong backbone and a community that supports those risky decisions — something Michigan is lagging on.

Panelists also highlighted the importance of Michigan as an attractive state for startups, particularly when it comes to the convergence of technology and mobility. The overarching message of attracting talent reinforces the importance of key tenants of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Forward Detroit economic development strategy: increasing post-secondary degree attainment and increasing mobility-related projects.

“It is clear that Michigan has a challenge and an opportunity to continue to develop our mobility startup ecosystem and to continue to lead in next-generation mobility,” Stevens said.


Carlotta Gmachl is a Business Attraction and MICHauto coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

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

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

On June 21, the Detroit Regional Chamber hosted a delegation of 15 representatives from the Netherlands’ most successful mobility companies to discuss smart mobility and smart city solutions. Delegates were eager to learn about Detroit’s landscape, its business environment, and its leadership and future mobility projects, particularly in autonomous driving.

The Netherlands are among the world’s leading developers of smart and sustainable cities. During the visit, the delegation met with Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, and Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility for the city of Detroit, who shared the city’s strategy around mobility as a service (MAAS).

Additionally, on June 26, a second delegation from the Netherlands featuring key representatives from AutomotiveNL and Brainport Region joined the Chamber for a tour of Southeast Michigan, meeting with representatives from Ann Arbor SPARK, Ford Motor Co. and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The delegation also received a tour of the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center and DENSO to discuss the region’s automotive and mobility landscape. The delegation visits were part of an ongoing effort by the Chamber and its economic development partners to connect leading global technology firms with automotive OEMs and the supplier pipeline in the region.

Katelyn Davis Joins MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber as Director

Katelyn Davis joins the Detroit Regional Chamber as director of MICHauto. In this role, she will support and lead planning and execution for MICHauto, as the statewide automotive and mobility industry association, and the organization’s growth as an integral part of Forward Detroit, the Chamber’s economic development initiative.

Davis’ seven-year career has been dedicated to Michigan’s automotive industry. Most recently she served as a corporate affairs and communications specialist with Yazaki North America, Inc., where she was responsible for the company’s internal and external communications and corporate marketing strategy and implementation. Prior to that, she worked for WPP’s GTB (formerly Team Detroit) on the communications team at Ford Motor Co.

“We are extremely pleased to have Katelyn join the MICHauto team. Her background and experience in the auto industry, combined with her expertise in marketing and communications, made the perfect match and will be critical to achieving our mission and goals,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Chamber.

Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from Grand Valley State University and completed graduate studies in new media communications at Wayne State University.

In addition, Davis is an acting board member for the Automotive Public Relations Council (APRC) and played an active role on MICHauto’s Awareness Committee.

She resides in Wyandotte, Michigan.

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About MICHauto

MICHauto is a statewide initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber dedicated to promoting, retaining and growing the automotive industry in Michigan. MICHauto embodies a public-private strategy, championing Michigan as the global epicenter of the automotive industry and providing a platform for collaboration on advocacy, business attraction and retention, and talent attraction and development. Serving as the unified voice of Michigan’s automotive cluster, MICHauto works closely with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Original Equipment Suppliers Association, Center for Automotive Research and other Michigan and national organizations. To learn more visit MICHauto.org.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

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

MICHauto’s fourth annual Supplier Fair and Legislative Reception connected more than a dozen suppliers with state lawmakers to continue the discussion on the economic impact of suppliers across the state. The reception, held May 3 at Troppo in Lansing, featured more than 50 attendees, including 25 legislators and six legislative staff members.

Suppliers at the event included American Axle & Manufacturing, BorgWarner, DENSO International America Inc., HELLA Inc., Lacks Enterprise Inc., Magna International Inc., MAHLE Industries Inc., Phoenix Contact, Shiloh Industries, and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America.

The evening included a presentation of MICHauto’s Legislator of the Year award to state Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, for his service to the state and his ongoing commitment to Michigan’s automotive industry. Horn was a key author of legislation that supports the testing and development of autonomous and connected vehicles in Michigan.