Opinion: Driving next-generation mobility in Michigan

March 11, 2020

The Detroit News

Glenn Stevens

The automotive industry, our state’s signature industry, is at an inflection point. The design, engineering and advanced manufacturing of next-generation mobility solutions represent an enormous opportunity for Michigan, while also posing an increasing economic threat if we do not act and lead.

The economic contribution of Michigan’s current automotive industry is $225 billion annually to the state and nearly $3.5 trillion globally. Future projections track the mobility industry in a shared use economy at upwards of $7 trillion annually.

I am grateful to our state leadership for recognizing and working with MICHauto on promoting, retaining and growing our signature industry. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent executive actions — creating an Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, a chief mobility officer role, and the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification — are significant steps to ensure Michigan has the focus, resources, and most importantly, a roadmap to solidify Michigan as a global mobility leader.

For over 120 years the automotive industry has been woven into the very fabric of our culture and communities. Michigan has been at the forefront of innovation, engineering and manufacturing to bring products to life, taking us from the first industrial revolution into the age of mass-produced vehicles and rise of suburbanization.

In today’s Digital Age, technological advancements move at an incredible pace.

Vehicles are the most complex consumer products on the face of the earth. They operate at the core of the connected world and the internet of things, and we depend on them for safe, reliable, and sustainable transportation.

Automakers and their suppliers are keeping pace with advanced technology while simultaneously honoring their rich automotive heritage. Today’s vehicles are connected, electrified, moving toward automation and operating in a shared-use economy. And while the internal combustion engine is not disappearing anytime soon, there is no question that the demand for electric vehicles is increasing and that mass adoption will continue to progress.

Comparatively, there can be less than 20 components in an EV propulsion system and more than 1,000 in an internal combustion engine. This equates to new technologies, companies infrastructure and a potentially significant impact on Michigan’s traditional supplier base, which spreads across the communities of our state.

Our unique and powerful automotive ecosystem continues to flourish. Michigan continues to lead the nation in the number of engineers, has more than 21 OEMs with a presence or global headquarters here, and it is home to 96 of the top 100 suppliers to North America. Among all of this brainpower, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office chose to locate their first satellite office here because of the volume of innovation.

However, there is still a great deal of work to be done and diversification is key.

One of the greatest platforms we have for diversification stems from our expertise in advanced manufacturing and modernization. Today’s industry is being centered on artificial intelligence, machine learning, additive manufacturing and cybersecurity.

Michigan needs to develop new mobility technology and solutions, while simultaneously growing the economy with the traditional automotive industry. To do that we need to be forward-thinking in the following areas:

Diverse and Highly Skilled Talent

• Our citizens will need digital and technological skills to thrive in this new environment.

• Ensuring that we have the correct education and training programs in place is essential.

• STEM education in K-12, higher education programs, and reskilling and training opportunities need to provide all citizens with the capacity to meet the job requirements of today and in the future. Furthermore, Michigan must be a welcoming and attractive state for immigrant talent.

Industry 4.0

Our ability to adapt and utilize technology in our manufacturing centers and communities will allow us to compete globally. 3-D printing, augmented reality and advanced robotics mandate that our traditional automotive industry compete in a different way. We “make” things in Michigan and ensuring that our shop floors are also the factories of the future is vitally important.

Solving Global Issues

Hyper-urbanization, climate change, scarcity of resources and demographic shifts require that our traditional vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers develop transportation solutions that solve global issues, not contribute to them.

Our companies and communities must be prepared, and Michigan’s OEMs have seized this opportunity. General Motors, our states’ largest industry employer, has focused its entire strategy and execution on a world where we have “zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”

Whitmer’s executive actions pick up where Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration left off, setting a course for Michigan to evolve and lead. We are supportive and encouraged that her administration is seeking to make sure that industry, education and government intersect so that sound policy, intelligent infrastructure and most importantly essential skills and training are in place. The office and council will play critical roles to chart a course for Michigan’s signature industry and the mobility future.

When a society, community, individual or in this case, an industry and state, face an inflection point there are two options. We either chart a course for upward trajectory for our economy and embrace and utilize change or we fall victim to it, as we have in the past due to forces that we were not prepared for. We have continuously brought products and technology to life in this state and must continue to do so.

Gov. Whitmer’s signings at the MICHauto Summit on Feb. 25 in Detroit were indeed significant and they are impactful actions that further differentiate and enable Michigan to lead in the next generation frontier of mobility.

View the original article here.

MICHauto and Governor Whitmer Align to Ensure Michigan’s Mobility Future

“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and MICHauto are aligned on a vision to shape Michigan’s mobility future. MICHauto is honored to be a key partner to Gov. Whitmer’s administration in executing the executive actions taken today. I look forward to ongoing collaboration with the governor, The Michigan Council for Future Mobility and Electrification, the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus, and industry stakeholders to ensure Michigan leads the mobility revolution.”

– Glenn Stevens Jr., Executive Director, MICHauto; Vice President, Automotive and Mobility Initiatives, Detroit Regional Chamber

Watch: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer At The 2020 MICHauto Summit

Opinion: Funding Going PRO vital to auto industry present and future

February 24, 2020

Crain’s Detroit Business

By: Glenn Stevens

Ask anyone in business and they will tell you the same thing — our state needs workers with the skills to fill the thousands of job openings at companies of all sizes, in all industries. Bridging this talent gap is vital to Michigan’s economic future, given the projected workforce gap of more than 500,000 by 2026.

Ask any elected official and they will respond similarly, regardless of party. The question now is, how do we fill this need for the state’s signature automotive industry? The answer is by training potential employees with new technologies while advancing the skills required to fill open positions.

Start by continuing what works. The Going PRO in Michigan program is making strides to close the talent gap through training in classrooms and on the job, or via apprenticeship programs. Last year, funding through the program allowed 849 employers to train 5,909 new hires and 18,900 current employees. And 97 percent of the companies awarded had fewer than 500 employees and 70 percent had fewer than 100. We often read about the large companies that are vital to the automotive industry, but thousands of smaller firms make up the backbone of our economy.

While the Going PRO Talent Fund has helped further train thousands of workers so far, with each passing quarter, even more are losing out on the opportunity to adapt to industry advancements. And jobs that need to be filled are staying open while appropriations are being held up.

When you consider Going PRO’s success, number of applicants and return on investment, it clearly warrants a $50 million state appropriation to continue benefiting Michigan companies and workers. And with more than 1,200 applications for 2020 from employers, 43,000 workers stand to benefit from increased training and potential salary gains.

This is essential for where the automotive industry is headed. The “Detroit 3” continue to make major investments to protect Michigan’s automotive future. The FCA Mack Avenue Plant, General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck EV Plant and Ford Motor Co.’s commitment to the Michigan Central Station corridor are testaments to that. Suppliers are keeping pace as well. Paslin is expanding to support Rivian in a project expected to generate $45 million in private investment and create 200 new jobs. Going PRO supports these companies and their peers around our state.

Equally, we need Michigan to invest in the workforce to ensure thousands of employees have an opportunity to receive training to keep up with the changing industry landscape.
While the average hourly wage of a trainee is $16.95, the six-month post-training wage averages $26.60. This significant increase allows Michiganders to earn family-sustaining wages and employers to invest in their current workforce to meet talent demands.

State Sen. Ken Horn introduced a bill last month that would allocate $36.5 million to the Going PRO Talent Fund, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer added it back into her budget as a line item with $27.9 million in funding. There are options on the table, and we need our state policymakers to set aside partisan politics to fund the program and allow companies to get to work on retraining their workforce.

Economic growth is ultimately driven by a skilled, motivated and supported workforce. Let’s continue to invest in our people.

Glenn Stevens Jr. is the executive director of MICHauto and the vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

View The Original Article Here

Opinion: Metro Detroit a Hotbed for Small Businesses

November 17, 2019

The Detroit News

Mark S. Lee

According to the 2012 U.S. Census data, the City of Detroit is home to more than 62,000 small businesses. Regionwide, it seems there’s a new business opening every time you turn around, and this trend is gaining momentum.

As I’ve considered the entrepreneurial and business ecosystem here, a couple of questions emerge:

Is Metro Detroit a good place to relocate a business? If so, what’s the “state of this region” when it comes to attracting newcomers looking to grow their businesses?

“It was not that long ago,” says Glenn Stevens, executive director, MICHauto, Detroit Regional Chamber, “that Detroit and Michigan had a global perception (and, in many cases, a reality) that we were a city, region and state that was the “rust belt” and would never revive.”

But over time, the perception continues to evolve and change.

“Today’s reality could not be farther from that perception,” Stevens continues. “While we have our challenges, there is a collective focus that is synergized to address what we need to do to continue to make this a place where companies and people with ideas from around the world can come to find opportunity, live, work and play.”

Stevens also points out “the business climate, cost of living, quality of life, access to talent and the unique and special combination of culture and spirit of our people make the region and state more than a potential destination for startups and businesses to locate here.”

Read the full article here 

Motor City Stakes Claim To Be Capital of Autos’ Future

November 7, 2019

The Detroit News

Kalea Hall

Detroit — The Motor City’s historic strength in manufacturing is enabling it to become the center for the future of the automotive industry.

Just a few years ago, conventional thinking assumed Silicon Valley’s tech heavyweights held the upper hand in producing the next generation of vehicles. That was before the extensive problems experienced by electric-vehicle start-up Tesla Inc. in building EVs at its California plant, among other challenges to the tech-will-prevail thesis.

“There was this thinking that Silicon Valley was going to crush Detroit, that they knew how to do it better,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Cox Automotive. “Well, reality has set in” that Detroit knows is how to make cars. “Yes, they can be autonomous, they can be EVs. But … you still have to know how to build a car.”

Detroit does. And recent investments by all three Detroit automakers as well as a Silicon Valley self-driving company are helping the city build on its legacy of manufacturing know-how to stake the claim as the nation’s center for self-driving and electric vehicles.

“It’s almost like we are a Silicon Valley again, because if you look back over a century…we were a hub for natural resources, innovation and people — and we are seeing that again,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber’s vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives.

The city’s reinvention as a hub of innovation is visible in Corktown, where Dearborn-based Ford is building a campus that will be an electric and autonomous technology center for the automaker and its partners. The technology will take shape at Michigan Central Depot, a towering symbol of Detroit’s decline as it sat vacant for 30 years. Ford plans to reinvigorate it to house 2,500 employees and create space for partners to have another 2,500 employees to develop and test new mobility technologies. The station’s transformation, which will include retail and hospitality businesses, will be complete by the end of 2022.

“Ford believes in the city of Detroit and its peoples’ future as a global hub for modern mobility,” Ford’s Corktown spokeswoman Christina Twelftree said. “Michigan is the automotive R&D capital of the world and Detroit is uniquely positioned to leapfrog other urban cores to explore the role transportation can play in revitalizing cities.”

Already there’s a staff of 250 Ford Autonomous Vehicle LLC employees working in the neighborhood.A fleet of self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrids being tested with partner Argo AI is a common sight in the Motor City.

The global automotive industry has multiple cities wanting to stake the claim that they are the center for future automotive technologies. Because Detroit is “working from a position of history and a position of strength with regards to the ecosystem, it’s a great place for the center to develop,” Stevens said.

“We are very quickly becoming not only an automotive center, but an absolute global leader for the development of this next-generation mobility technology.”

GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant is yet another example of the city capitalizing on what it knows how to do best: build vehicles.

Read the full article here

MICHauto Hosts Churchill High School Students at HELLA for First Discover Auto Tour

MICHauto’s Discover Auto program connects students to the career opportunities available to them in the automotive industry through immersive tours with those leading its ongoing evolution. In the first tour of the school year, 15 computer science students from Livonia’s Churchill High School were welcomed to HELLA’s Northville facility on Friday, Oct. 18 for career discussion and exploration.

HELLA CEO Joerg Weisgerber provided the students an introduction to HELLA’s work and its role in the automotive industry and the company’s Young Scholar program. Current Young Scholar, Gwen Roberts, shared a firsthand account of what the program entails and how the challenging work prepares students for fulfilling careers.

Beyond exposure to the operational components of the industry, this Discover Auto tour offered career lessons about work-life balance, the global reach of a Michigan-based automotive career, and the diverse spectrum of roles available – from traditional manufacturing to software development and everything in between.

MICHauto Investors Embark on Leadership Detroit Journey

Last week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s signature Leadership Detroit program kicked off Class XLI. MICHauto’s Katelyn Davis joined 69 executives from across the Detroit region for a 10-month transformational leadership journey designed to challenge emerging and existing leaders from the Detroit region to bring about positive change.

Congratulations to the following investors for embarking on their journey:

Jay Brown, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, RPM-The Driving Force in Logistics

Jade Burns, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

Stephen Campbell, Attorney, Clark Hill PLC

Daniel Click, Managing Director, KPMG LLP

Ana Romero Davila, Senior Program Manager, Adient US LLC

Julianne Frost, Assistant Vice President, FCA Foundation; Engagement Manager, FCA Foundation and External Affairs; FCA US LLC

Richard Glover, Manager, U.S. Inside Sales Organization, IHS Markit

Farah Harb, Global Education Programs Analyst, Ford Motor Company Fund

Tom Komjathy, Director, SE Operations, Warner Norcross + Judd LLP

Dawn Medley, Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management, Wayne State University

Robert Nederhood, Partner, Foley & Lardner LLP

Lucas Polcyn, Principal, Miller Canfield

Christine Roeder, Senior Vice President, Growth and Development, Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Daniel Schairbaum, Attorney, Dykema Gossett PLLC

View the full class roster and learn more.

MICHauto on the Paul W. Smith Show

August 7, 2019


MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens and Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) joined WJR’s Paul W. Smith from CAR Management Briefing Seminars at the Grand Traverse Resort to discuss MICHauto and the Michigan Auto Caucus’ focus to protect and grow the automotive and mobility industry.

Listen to their conversation:










MICHauto Investors Gather in Lansing for Annual Meetings with Legislators

“Meeting with legislators is crucial to ensuring that policymakers understand the industry’s issues, opportunities, and our collective economic impact,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

On Tuesday, April 16, the Chamber’s MICHauto initiative gathered executives from 25 automotive companies to meet with 25 legislators in Lansing for the 2019 Automobility Day at the Capitol. Automotive experts and executives discussed the industry’s impact with legislators including MICHauto’s 2019 policy priorities. This year’s priorities focus on the further development of talent, technology, and trade as the key drivers of progress.

“The MICHauto policy priorities were created with the automotive industry and represent their thoughts on what we need to focus on to ensure future economic success,” Stevens said.

MICHauto values the opportunity to foster collaboration between industry leaders and the state government, which will ultimately strengthen Michigan’s economy and reinforce its standing as the automotive capital of the world. Many individuals contribute to this shared effort, and each year MICHauto recognizes one of them for their commitment to supporting the automotive and mobility industry in Michigan.

This year, MICHauto named Rep. Rebekah Warren Legislator of the Year for her dedication to driving next-generation vehicle R&D, her sponsorship and creation of the framework to allow the establishment of the American Center for Mobility, and her appointment on the Michigan Council on Future Mobility.

The sixth annual Automobility Day at the Capitol highlighted how a strong partnership with Michigan’s political leadership will continue to promote a promising future for the state’s automotive and mobility industry.