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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page. For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at 313.596.0352.

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.