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Mark Reuss: Education key to keeping Michigan at forefront of auto industry

From: MLive

By Dave Muller

September 23, 2014

DETROIT, MI – The auto industry is essential to Michigan for people who grew up here, such as General Motors executive vice president of global product development Mark Reuss, and for others who moved here, Reuss said Tuesday.

How essential is the auto industry to Michigan’s economy? Reuss threw out some numbers while giving a keynote address at the MICHauto summit, a day-long conference at the Cobo Center hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber and showcasing Michigan’s talent, innovation and supply chain in the automotive industry.

Reuss said Michigan has:

13 OEM assembly plants, more than any other state;
35 components and materials plants, more than any other state;
63 of the top automotive suppliers, more than any other state;
70 percent of North America’s automotive engineering activity, and
More automotive engineers than any other state.
Reuss also underscored how important the state is to GM. The Detroit-based automaker has nearly 46,000 employees in 36 locations throughout Michigan, making GM the state’s largest private employer.

Reuss said GM has invested more than $5 billion in the state since 2009, in addition to $1.5 billion paid in manufacturing wages paid in 2012 and more than $14 million given to charitable organizations in the state since 2008.

“So clearly Michigan means a lot to General Motors and to the auto industry as a whole,” Reuss said.

But just because the domestic auto industry was born in Michigan, that doesn’t mean it has to stay there, and other states continue to reach out for a piece of the pie, Reuss said.

Though he didn’t mention it during his address, GM announced Tuesday that the Cadillac brand is moving its headquarters to New York City. But Reuss played down the move later when speaking with the media. He said only about 50 employees are making the move, while Cadillac’s manufacturing and technology operations will remain in Michigan.

For Michigan, Reuss echoed a theme that was common throughout the day at MICHauto: Staying competitive begins with better education for youngsters.

“It may seem trite or even obvious, but if it’s so obvious, why aren’t we doing a better job of it?” Reuss said, before citing numbers that put the U.S. behind most other industrialized countries in math and science.

“We simply can’t afford to fall any further behind the rest of the industrialized world in educating our citizens,” he said.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Mike Duggan are also set to speak at MICHauto Tuesday. Chrysler Group LLC president and CEO of Motorsports Ralph Gilles spoke earlier in the day.