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Special Edition: Inaugural Michigan Automotive Summit a Success, Attracts More than 400 Industry Leaders

Starting with a keynote address from Governor Rick Snyder and concluding with a meet-and-greet with the state’s new automotive adviser, Nigel Francis, MICHauto’s inaugural Michigan Automotive Summit was a resounding success. The daylong event held at the newly renovated Cobo Center attracted more than 400 leaders from industry, academia, government, non-profits and professional service firms; marking the first event of its kind focused solely on Michigan’s entire automotive industry supply chain. Reflecting the appetite for the event, the Summit earned great support from sponsors for a first-time event, as well as strong regional and national news coverage.

Governor Calls for Michigan’s Continued Drive Toward Automotive Excellence

The automotive industry’s drive for excellence and Michigan’s continued progress as the Comeback State go hand in hand. That was a key message Governor Rick Snyder delivered as he opened MICHauto’s inaugural Michigan Automotive Summit at Cobo Center calling on the state to “double down” on its signature industry.

“Michigan is the ‘Comeback State,’ but we are only at the beginning of the comeback,” Governor Snyder said. “We need to keep the passion and continue going faster and working harder. Take pride that you are in an industry and state that was broken and rebounded. With groups like MICHauto and great collaboration, we are bringing back the automotive industry and the state.”

The Governor also highlighted the need for Michigan’s leaders in the automotive field to partner together to lead an increased marketing effort to promote the industry as the dynamic, high-tech industry filled with tremendous opportunity. He also challenged the audience to lead the nation in connecting talented workers to those opportunities and called for an increased focus on vocational training in skilled trades to ensure employers can hire the highly skilled workers they need.

To watch the video from Gov. Snyder’s keynote, click here. This session was sponsored by Michigan Media Solutions.

Akerson Discusses Talent and Women in Leadership Roles at Inforum EventGM CEO Dan Akerson said the day is soon approaching when a woman will be leading one of the nation’s top auto manufacturers during a lunch hosted by the Inforum Center for Leadership.  The conversation focused on talented women in the workforce and gender issues in the workplace in a question-and-answer format moderated by Dr. Arin Reeves, president of Nextions. Throughout the discussion, Akerson touched upon the value of inclusion and the importance in having a diverse leadership team.

Akerson’s appearance coincided with the 10th anniversary release of Inforum’s Michigan Women’s Leadership Index, a biennial snapshot of the leadership role of women in Michigan’s top 100 public companies. Click here to read media coverage.

R&D is the Future of the Auto Industry, Key to Maintaining Michigan’s AdvantageResearch and development is the future of the auto industry, and Michigan’s competitive advantage in this sector relies on the ability to stay ahead of the technology curve.  A panel of industry leaders voiced a strong sense of urgency in calling for cooperation between manufacturers and the state government to ensure Michigan upholds its R&D advantage, which positions the state as the global epicenter of the automotive industry.

Panelists including Thomas Apostolos, president of Ricardo, Inc.; Simon Nagata, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing N.A., Inc.; Jeffrey Owens, chief technology officer and executive vice president of Delphi; John Rakolta Jr., chairman and CEO of Walbridge; joined moderator John McElroy of Autoline, and implored Michigan automotive units to avoid complacency, and aggressively capture R&D jobs.

Conversation also focused on how rapidly evolving technology requires the same fluidity from government to ensure that regulations and legislation are adapted quickly. The panel highlighted how when legislation lags behind innovation it hinders companies’ ability to compete.  They called for stronger cooperation and accountability from the state government to create a seamless, adaptive regulatory environment where businesses and R&D can thrive. Another key point was the importance of Michigan working together to position the state from a legislative, legal and infrastructure standpoint to support the development of connected vehicles, including vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to infrastructure and vehicle to cloud.

To watch video highlights on this session, click here. This session was sponsored by Michigan International Speedway.

Jay Baron: Profitable, High-Tech Industry Poised to Create 100,000 jobs in 12 years

As a national leader in engineering and tooling, Michigan’s unrivaled automotive resources bode well for the state in an industry that is expanding in production and in profits, according to Jay Baron, the president and CEO for the Center of Automotive Research. During his keynote speech, Baron explained how an increased focus on the development of materials, powertrain technology and electronic connectivity in vehicles will lead to the creation of more than 100,000 jobs in Michigan by 2025.

Baron also praised the state’s automotive industry for its dynamic and consistent product creation, highlighting how automotive businesses look to Michigan because it is where the latest industry technology is being developed. He broke down how the state’s unique collection of engineering talent and tooling companies power Michigan’s manufacturing base.

To watch video highlights of this session, click here. This session was sponsored by Warner Norcross & Judd.

Industry-Academic Partnership Panel Defines Success of Collaboration

Home to more than 17 nationally ranked engineering programs, Michigan’s universities provide unique opportunity for academic-industry partnerships that drive innovation and research and development. This point was prominent in the panel discussion highlighting the partnerships between the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Co., and Macomb Community College and General Motors.

Panelists included: Michael Drake, director of corporate relations, College of Engineering, University of Michigan; James Jacobs, president, Macomb Community College; Ed Krause, global manager, external alliances, research and advanced engineering; Ford Motor Co.; and Ed Kornas, senior manufacturing project engineer, General Motors. The panel was moderated by Jeff Mason, the executive director of the University Research Corridor.

The academic and industry leaders offered their perspectives on how these relationships benefit the institution or organization, in addition to providing students with hands-on training and a skill-set that makes them employment-ready upon graduating. While these relationships have been long-standing, they continue to evolve based on the needs of the industry by continually developing programs and innovative projects to fit the need.  To view photos of this session, click here. This session was sponsored by Fifth Third Bank.

Automotive Industry Provides Emerging Leaders with Gateway to Success

The automotive industry provides young professionals with exciting opportunities to mold their career paths based on personal ambitions, but without increased marketing and recruiting efforts by employers talented individuals may look elsewhere. That was the message that four young professionals conveyed to the audience, providing accounts of what attracted them to the automotive field.

Panelists included: Brandy Goolsby, global commercial vehicle business and product strategy analyst, Ford Motor Company; Brian Hunt, embedded software engineer, American Axle & Manufacturing; Soha Kadry, engineering supervisor, Yazaki North America; and Sarah Verner, restraints design engineer, Nissan Technical Center North America. The session, moderated by Rob Luce, MICHauto program manager, highlighted several factors that demonstrate that the next generation of the professionals has a specific career progression plan – factors that the automotive industry must address in its recruiting efforts.

The industry is too often perceived by the majority of up-and-coming young professionals as a static and uninspiring industry. The panelists insisted the opposite is true, discussing how the automotive industry provides opportunities to work internationally, hold leadership responsibilities at an early stage and be in control of career progression – all key traits desired by the workforce of the future.

To watch video highlights of this session, click here. This session was sponsored by Business Leaders for Michigan.

Panel Highlights State’s Competitiveness and Positive Environment for Automotive BusinessFor Michigan to be successful it is critical that the state has a business-friendly environment to continue economic progress. During the panel discussion, a group of industry leaders and government officials discussed recent legislation and incentives that are creating a more competitive state in attracting and retaining automotive businesses.

Panelists included: Daniel Domenicucci, senior manager, Ernst & Young LLP; Frank Ervin, director, government affairs, Magna International Inc.; Steve Hilfinger, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Michigan Economic Development Corporation; and Brian O’Connell, regional director, state government relations, General Motors. The Detroit News Associate Business Editor Daniel Howes moderated the discussion.

The panel highlighted how they saw Michigan staying competitive in the 21st century with a number of incentives offered to automotive and general businesses related to job creation, reimbursements and building new business opportunities. The group also attributed the state’s competitiveness to key legislative changes, such as the elimination of personal property tax and simplifying the tax climate in Michigan. To view photos of this session, click here. This session was sponsored by Bank of America.