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MICHauto and the Motor State

By Sandy K. Baruah
Page 5

When the Detroit Regional Chamber launched MICHauto last January as part of its economic development portfolio – the proverbial dust from the near collapse of the domestic auto industry had settled and Michigan’s signature industry was again revving its engines. Since then Michigan’s subsequent recovery, fueled largely by the automotive resurgence, has demonstrated again the transformative power of this dynamic industry.

With 2013 upon us the auto industry continues to expand nationally and globally. The potential of U.S. car sales is positioning the domestic auto sector for a Golden Age of profitability as automotive journalist John McElroy correctly pointed out last January in the Detroiter. Michigan is ideally positioned to capitalize on this economic growth. However, in order to retain this position as the undisputed epicenter of the global auto industry, Michigan needs to embrace a statewide approach to leveraging its unique assets and make the commitment necessary to remain the Motor State.

As the global economy seems to remind us on a daily basis – the only constants are change and increased competition. The next economic challenge and challenger are right around the bend and states must be nimble enough to adapt to each twist and turn. This fluid economic landscape requires political and social cohesion – and a state collaborating toward the same end goals.

While the inevitable political battles over Michigan’s recent status as a right-to-work state could temporarily hinder our state’s efforts to compete at our full potential in the global economy, it is critical that all segments of our society; government, business and labor take the long and wholistic view. The great momentum in the region and throughout Michigan will continue as will investment and growth. And that’s a testament to the breadth of the industry and the transformative power of all the auto and business resources housed in Michigan.

Over the past year, MICHauto has started to build cohesion across the state to leverage the automotive industry’s assets and drive economic development. In signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the organizations are collaborating as strategic partners in promoting and growing Michigan’s automotive cluster as a driver of economic growth and diversification in the 21st century. This relationship between MICHauto and the MEDC is important to sharing intelligence on automotive prospects and collaborating on select global business attraction efforts.

The auto industry, like Cobo Center, has undergone some dramatic “structural” changes in recent years and both the venue and the industry are primed for prosperous years ahead. So as you enjoy the NAIAS, you can know that the Detroit Regional Chamber and MICHauto are “all in” on working with our public and private partners across the state to expand Michigan’s automotive industry and will put the pedal to the metal to keep the momentum going – after all, this is the Motor State.

Sandy K. Baruah is the president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.