Member of the Month: FCA Invests $4.5 B In Michigan Plant Expansion

Editor’s note: The member of the month highlights a Detroit Regional Chamber member company working to grow the regional economy through innovative leadership, programs, or support of policies that benefit the business community atlarge.

FCA was selected as the member of the month for March 2019 because of their announcement to invest $4.5 billion to expand production capacity in Michigan, including building the first new assembly plant within the city of Detroit in nearly three decades. This plan is expected to create nearly 6,500 new jobs, increase capacity at five facilities across Southeast Michigan, and add electric and three-row Jeeps to production plans.

The Warren Truck plant will be retooled for the all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, and continue to build the Ram 1500 Classic; Jefferson North Assembly Plant will be modernized to build the Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee; and the reborn Mack Avenue Engine Complex will build the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV.

Other investments include $119 million to move Pentastar engine production from Mack I to the Dundee Engine plant, $400 million for increased capacity, and 80 new jobs at the Sterling and Warren stamping plants. Mike Manley, chief executive officer, FCA N.V., said that these updates allow Jeep to enter “white space segments” that will help the company grow and enable new electrified Jeep products, including at least four plug-in hybrid vehicles and the flexibility to produce fully battery-electric vehicles.

This announcement is a significant investment in Southeast Michigan’s potential as the leader of next generation mobility. As the automotive industry continues to evolve, Detroit remains at the forefront of this change.

MICHauto Convenes Investors to Discuss Mobility Ecosystem at 2019 Annual Meeting

“MICHauto was the first statewide program to highlight the importance of connected vehicles and next-generation autonomous vehicles,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, during the 2019 MICHauto Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 26 at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Baruah noted collaboration between the business, government, and education communities as a cornerstone for bolstering Michigan’s position as a global force in the industry and announced a more than half a million dollar Chamber investment to support the program’s statewide expansion and branding efforts.

Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives at the Chamber, followed with MICHauto’s strategic vision rooted in talent, policy, awareness, and next-generation mobility. Stevens outlined the program’s path forward as a key component toward reaching economic prosperity in Michigan.

“Many of us have heard for many years that we need to diversify away from the auto industry,” Stevens said. “We would argue that the greatest platform we have for diversification is the auto industry.”









View Baruah and Stevens’s slides from their presentations here.


  • MICHauto unveiled the 2019 Michigan Is Automobility Report. From Michigan’s global impact and talent pipeline to education initiatives and legislative updates, the report offers updates and detailed data on Michigan’s evolving automotive ecosystem. Download the full report.
  • In a keynote address, Magna International’s Jim Tobin discussed the innovative future of mobility and how Michigan can be a leader. From building the next-generation talent pool with career-ready educational programming to upskilling existing employees, the future of the automotive industry will rely on communication, coordination, and cooperation between stakeholders. Read more.
  • In a panel discussion with New Economy Initiative’s Pamela Lewis, Magna International’s Jim Tobin, and Ford X’s Kristin Welch, The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes moderated a timely conversation on the intersection between the traditional automotive industry and startup culture, leveraging Michigan’s robust mobility assets to drive job access, and drawing out-of-state and local talent. Read more. 
  • Mark Montone, executive director of business development for Lacks Enterprises Inc., was awarded MICHauto’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of his long-standing support of MICHauto initiatives and his active presence in the automotive industry.

Industry Collaboration Panel: Moving the Michigan Mobility Needle

During MICHauto’s 2019 Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 29 at the Detroit Athletic Club, The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes moderated a discussion on industry collaboration between New Economy Initiative’s Pamela Lewis, Magna International’s Jim Tobin, and Ford X’s Kristin Welch.

“I have the unique experience of working on the technology and OEM side,” said Welch in discussing the intersection between startup culture and traditional mobility. Ford X is creating a safe space for startups within OEM, she said.

While startup culture has an ethos of risk-taking, traditional automobility tends to be more regulated because of its complicated nature. But the industry can still take smart risks, Tobin said.

“Failure will be there, but fail fast, fail cheap,” he said. “Let’s have a funnel of many opportunities but let’s get to a point where it’s not going to a be an expensive failure.”

Fifteen years ago, this encouraging attitude toward entrepreneurship was not present, Lewis said. However, today the dynamic has changed, and innovation is encouraged.

With next-generation mobility technology underway, Lewis emphasized the importance of fostering access to the industry. She called on increased diversity during conversations about the future. Innovation in mobility assets should also be used to remove barriers in workforce readiness and job access. She pointed to the insights of “experiential experts,” like residents who take the bus for example, as critical to dialogue.

“How can we influence the mobility conversation on how assets can increase job access?” she asked the audience.

With her West Coast startup experience, Welch praised Southeast Michigan’s community-oriented and collaborative culture in the automotive industry.

“People don’t know to come here, but let’s show them,” she said. “We need more trumpet blowing.”

At the same time, it’s necessary to draw talent from the local region itself.

“I’d like to think that we’re growing from our own crop of the workforce and not having to convince others to come to us,” Welch said.

With continuing partnerships and the support of various sectors, like universities, corporations, and more, along with legislative support, Michigan can build an even stronger automotive ecosystem and become a global leader in next-generation mobility.

“In order to get to the next level, the state has to be a key part,” Tobin said.

Jim Tobin: Driving the Future of Michigan Mobility Requires Collaboration

“A car doesn’t use technology; a car is technology,” said Jim Tobin, chief marketing officer and president of Magna Asia and Magna International in his keynote address at MICHauto’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 26 at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Speaking from 39 years of experience, Tobin told attendees that the automotive and mobility industry is the most complex.

“As we go forward, there is going to be exponential change,” he said.

From automation to electrification and beyond, the industry is rife with potential technological growth, but the question remains: when are these innovations going to hit the mainstream?

Tobin said, not for a while. In the midst of disruption, the industry should also consider factors such as affordability and infrastructure. He stressed the importance of collaboration between various sectors —government, industry, and academia.

“The value of partnerships to pool resources and knowledge to attack challenges is critical.”

According to Tobin, by 2030 there will be an estimated 70 million vehicles with electrified powertrain and the market size will increase to approximately $80-95 billion. With this projected boom in the industry, Michigan can be a leader by leveraging great automotive minds, pooling resources for better alignment, and appointing an auto czar — or advocate — in Lansing.

The next 10 years will be critical for Michigan, said Tobin, and education is a key factor that will drive Michigan’s automotive and mobility needle.

“We need to create awareness early enough in life that children know that there are opportunities in the auto industry.”

Tobin said drawing the next-generation talent pool includes changing the conversation from “college-ready to career-ready,” connecting with students from K-9, including basic hand tools training in the education system, and allowing high school students to enter pre-apprenticeship programs.

The factories of the future will also work to upskill employees in their current plants. It’s not enough to just pay attention to technology; the industry must analyze how the existing infrastructure will handle what’s going to happen down the road.

“How can we use MICHauto to make sure the state of Michigan is the go-to moving forward,” Tobin said. “No one company is going to do it on their own. We need communication, coordination, and cooperation. Where do we want to take this industry?”









View Tobin’s slides from the presentation here.

The numbers don’t lie: Michigan’s still the auto industry leader

March 26, 2019

The Detroit Free Press

Eric D. Lawrence 


Automotive industry insiders with the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto group are gathering Tuesday for their annual meeting at the Detroit Athletic Club, where they will get an update on key industry topics and receive a copy of the 2019 Michigan is Automobility report.

Here are some highlights from that report, which includes data from dozens of sources and provides the jobs and investment factoids above:

  • From 2016-18, three metro Detroit counties had some of the highest growth in the nation in new manufacturing jobs, with Macomb at No. 1, Wayne at No. 20 and Oakland at No. 28.
  • 17 percent of U.S. and 11 percent of North American vehicle production in 2018 occurred in Michigan, and 22 vehicle models were assembled here that year.
  • Michigan is No. 1 for operational U.S. Department of Transportation-funded and connected vehicle deployments with 11 projects.
  • Michigan is the top state for U.S. transportation equipment exports.
  • Automakers and suppliers have invested $29 billion in Michigan since 2009, which is more than three times any other state.

View the full article here

Butzel Long attorney Mark R. Lezotte to receive the 2019 United Cerebral Palsy National Chair’s Award on March 25 in Chicago

DETROIT, Mich. – Mark Lezotte, a leading southeast Michigan health care attorney with Butzel Long, will receive the 2019 United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) National Chair’s Award on March 25, 2019 during the nonprofit’s national conference in Chicago.

The Award is bestowed upon a person who has been particularly and uniquely supportive to the Chair of United Cerebral Palsy in providing volunteer leadership to UCP or through support of the UCP mission that has made an impact on the lives of the people served. During the conference, Lezotte also will lead a roundtable discussion on the role of volunteer board members and board recruitment.

He has long served UCP in various roles, including as chair of UCP’s national public policy committee. He has played a key role in guiding UCP staff and volunteers in defining the national public policy work, meeting with Congressional leaders, and consulting with advocates on formation of a national policy agenda in partnership with other national organizations. In 2016, he completed 11 years of service on the UCP National Board of Trustees, and he has also previously served as a board member and president of the UCP/Detroit affiliate.

This is the second time Lezotte has been the recipient of this prestigious award, having received it in 2004 as well. In addition, in 2017 he received the Richard L. Beer Volunteer Award from UCP/Detroit for his longstanding commitment to UCP/Detroit and the disability community.

Lezotte also has served in leadership roles on many other civic and nonprofit boards, and has substantial experience in corporate, health care, tax, and exempt organization matters, including corporate and nonprofit governance, business transactions, tax-exempt issues, hospital-physician ventures, and regulatory investigations.

He has been active in numerous bar and professional organizations. He has been recognized in “The Best Lawyers in America” (health care law), published by Woodward/White, Inc. since 2013; and has been selected to Michigan Super Lawyers, published by Thomson Reuters, since 2008.

About UCP

UCP and its 64 affiliates share a mission to advance the independence, productivity, and full citizenship of people with cerebral palsy, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other conditions. The UCP network of affiliates provides services and support to more than 176,000 children and adults annually. For 70 years, UCP affiliates have worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society assisting them to achieve a life without limits. Learn more by visiting or follow UCP on Twitter @UCPnational or:

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing and Shanghai. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter @butzel_long or:

ArcelorMittal Partnership Driving Jobs, Investment for Our Region

Last month, ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks celebrated a ribbon cutting for its new facility on Detroit’s east side, bringing an $83 million investment and 120 new jobs to Michigan. The Detroit Regional Chamber was a key partner in the company’s decision to move to the Detroit region and served as the initial contact and project manager throughout the process.

Bringing New Technology Into the Detroit Region
The addition to the I-94 Industrial Corridor, Arcelor Mittal brings new lightweighting and high-strength materials technology into the North American automotive market that will make vehicles safer and more fuel efficient. Three months after initial engagement, the global steel company quickly understood why the Detroit region was the perfect market to house its tailored blanks division, as opposed to Ohio or Ontario. Bringing the company to Michigan is a testament to the collaborative effort of the Chamber and its partners, from the city of Detroit and Detroit Economic Growth Corp., DTE Energy and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“The Chamber 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,” said Mike Clark, director of purchasing for the ArcelorMittal subsidiary.

Serving as a Connection Point
The Chamber moved quickly to access ArcelorMittal’s needs, connect them to appropriate public and private partners, address any concerns, vet real-estate options, coordinate incentive negotiations with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), and support the utility assessment with DTE Energy. These efforts were critical to securing the project for Southeast Michigan.

“Our role is on the front end with developing opportunities, making the business case for our region, and serving as project manager,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Chamber. “After the project is actually secured, the work to get a facility up and running continues for months afterword with the support of local municipalities, utilities and private partners.”

Engaging Partners to Cross the Finish Line
Once site selection was determined on the Mount Elliott facility, the city of Detroit took over the day-to-day management associated with building site inspections and approvals, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. (DEGC) assisted the company with the local tax abatement process.

The next 15 months were spent with numerous partners and organizations to bring the facility to reality. Forward Detroit investor DTE Energy, a key partner in the project, had one of the largest lifts.

“Once ArcelorMittal had decided on the Detroit region and the Detroit Regional Chamber engaged us in the process, we had to address complex issues to get infrastructure there within a proper timeline for the client,” said Robert Feldmann, Executive Director for DTE Energy. “We were happy to assist with bringing a world-class company to the Detroit region.”

During the ribbon cutting, Mayor Mike Duggan recognized all the partners for their contribution to bringing more opportunities to the region and state.

Read more on ArcelorMittal’s move to the Detroit region

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.

Howes: Michigan’s automakers compete for self-driving lead

March 22, 2019

The Detroit News

Daniel Howes


“Rooted in a century of design engineering and manufacturing expertise, Michigan is leading the automotive industry’s evolution from traditional manufacturer to the research, testing, and deployment of next-generation mobility technology,” says a report to be released Tuesday by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto unit.

“From key public-private partnerships to being nationally competitive in mobility-related patents, Michigan is the place for testing and deployment of connected, automated, and electric vehicles. Within the next 30 years, fully autonomous vehicles will be commonplace on roadways across the United States.”

Michigan is ranked No. 1 in connected vehicle projects funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Business annually funds $12 billion in automotive research and development across the state. Michigan-based auto plants last year assembled 17 percent of all the vehicles built in the United States. More than 500 miles of roadway are ready for testing connected vehicles.

The trends are likely to accelerate, quickly, as automakers and major suppliers amp spending on electrification. Over the next decade, says Jim Tobin, chief marketing officer of Magna International Inc., automakers and suppliers are expected to invest $300 billion on electrification, up from just $90 billion a year ago.

“There’s still a lot of unknowns,” he said in an interview in advance of MICHauto’s annual meeting Tuesday, adding that when the technology will “hit mainstream” in the U.S. market ranks among the biggest uncertainties. “The China market by far will be the biggest consumer of battery-electric vehicles near-term.”

View the full article here

John Kasich set to deliver keynote address at Mackinac conference

March 21, 2019

The Detroit News

Beth LeBlanc 

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican critic of President Donald Trump, is set to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference and talk about the “current national political climate,” the Detroit Regional Chamber said Thursday.

The chamber-sponsored conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island has been promoting the theme of “restoring civility in American politics” during the past few years.

Trump, who is scheduled to hold a campaign rally next Thursday in Grand Rapids, is known for his brashness and attacks on political opponents.

Kasich is scheduled to speak May 30 at the annual Mackinac conference, which is traditionally attended by business professionals, Michigan and national lawmakers, as well as entrepreneurs during the last week of May.

View the full article here

Firm Elects Executive Committee Members for 2019

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. –The law firm of Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC has elected officers to serve on its executive committee for 2019. The officers are: Michael D. Sanders, Julie I. Fershtman, Todd W. Hoppe, Douglas A. Mielock, Anne M. Seurynck and Brent A. Titus.

Sanders has been re-elected as the firm’s president and as such, will head the Executive Committee. He devotes his law practice to the defense of employers, third party administrators and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation matters.

Fershtman is the vice president of the firm’s Southeast Michigan offices. She focuses her practice in business litigation, insurance coverage, insurance defense and is considered one of the nation’s leading practitioners in equine law.

Hoppe will serve as the firm’s treasurer. He practices from the firm’s Grand Rapids office, helping clients with business organization and planning, transactions, succession planning and estate planning.

Mielock will continue to serve as the firm’s secretary. He is a member of the Trusts and Estates practice group and focuses his practice primarily in the areas of estate planning, trust and estate litigation, estate administration and marital agreements.

Seurynck has been re-elected to serve as the vice president of the firm’s West Michigan offices. Among her practice areas are municipal and public entity, library law, school law services and municipal litigation.

Titus will continue to serve as the firm’s vice president of the Lansing office. Titus focuses primarily on real estate with an emphasis on commercial real estate transactions, landlord-tenant conflicts, real estate finance and environmental law.