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Spotlight Shines on Detroit Region Among Site Selectors During NAIAS Tour

Detroit Chamber Shows Off During NAIAS, Hopes to Attract Investment in Southeast Michigan

Impressive. Transformative. Opportunity.

These are just some of the ways national site selectors described the state and the automotive industry’s comeback during a recent visit to the Detroit region for the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

As part of its business attraction efforts, the Detroit Regional Chamber partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to host six site selectors from Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas, as well as representatives from Site Selector Magazine for a two-day tour on Jan. 14-16.

The whirlwind tour included notable stops at the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow’s grand opening, A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, Shinola, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Quicken Loans and Detroit Institute of Arts. In addition, the group participated in a talent roundtable discussion with workforce professionals across the region and a strolling dinner with the Chamber’s regional partners and Southeast Michigan business leaders.

Detroit versus everybody

Justin Robinson, director of business development for the Chamber, said there’s no substitute for seeing a community firsthand, especially for site selectors who facilitate business location recommendations every day.

“The purpose of the tour was to build up our relationships, as well as give the site selectors, who have been working with the Chamber and its partners, a chance to really see the positive things that are taking place in Detroit,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the site selectors represented mid-size to Fortune 500 companies, adding to the critical importance of getting the Detroit region on the radar of this key audience.

In a blog titled “Detroit versus everybody,” Dean Barber, president and CEO of Barber Business Advisors LLC wrote: “…if you were to go downtown, you very well might be surprised. I know I was, as there is an economic vitality that I think many cities would envy.”

Barber, who visited the city for the second time in 18 months, said he witnessed concrete evidence that Detroit was getting better — from the Detroit Red Wings future stadium district and its potential to stimulate growth in downtown businesses, to regional transportation improvements like the M-1 Rail.

Positive reports like Barber’s in turn create buzz for the Motor City among global investors, Robinson said. Click here to read Barber’s blog post.

A skilled workforce: the ‘golden ticket’

Monique Claiborne, business development representative for the Chamber, said many of the site selectors have taken notice of the Detroit region’s skilled workforce.

“They want to know what unique programs exist here to train and recruit the next generation of talent to fill the pipeline for their clients,” Claiborne explained.

A big portion of that comes from Gov. Rick Snyder’s pro-economic development policies, such as the elimination of the Personal Property Tax, and emphasis on increasing skilled trades training.

“Talent and infrastructure are two of the biggest factors that can entice a business to invest in an area, and Southeast Michigan has plenty of both,” she said.

Robinson said the business attraction team will now follow up with site selectors in the coming weeks to further connect them with resources in the region.