This year, the North American International Auto Show drew its largest crowd in 12 years. More than 800,000 visitors hoped to experience some of the current and future products and technologies we’ll soon see on the road.

But beyond this banner year for the show and the industry, is an untold story:  the automobile is in the midst of significant change, fueled by design and research and development to meet consumer needs and expectations.

Vehicle design and manufacturing has a history of being shaped by the needs and preferences of consumers, but the current pace of change is unprecedented.

“We believe that in the next 10 years, we are going to see more changes in the automobile than we have in the last 100 years,”  said Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation automotive office.

 

One example is Ford’s aluminum-body 2015 F150 pickup. Its breakthroughs in lightweight technology – a first of its kind – earned the pickup 2015 North American Truck of the Year. The F150’s composite frame cuts roughly 700 pounds off the truck’s weight and increases its fuel efficiency to approximately 26 miles per gallon.

Auto manufacturers are testing and using composite manufacturing as a way to reduce vehicle weight, enable new designs and cut emissions – positioning Michigan as a hotspot for R&D and innovation.

This month, the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) announced the creation of a research lab in Detroit to develop advanced lightweight materials for the automotive and other industries.

This adds to the list of reasons that Michigan will remain the epicenter for the global automotive industry.

More R&D happens in Michigan than in all other states combined

Michigan is the place for R&D activity, testing prototyping and manufacturing for connected vehicles and it’s a place where companies can find support they need.

Of the total U.S. automotive R&D spending, approximately 70 to 80 percent takes place among Michigan’s 375 R&D centers, where 70,000 professionals are employed.

What’s more, Ann Arbor will soon be home to the world’s largest on-road test facility for connected vehicle systems, establishing Ann Arbor and southeast Michigan as a hotspot for automotive technology research.

Michigan will be the place where skilled talent meets opportunity

With a focus on talent development through programs like MAT2 and Career Jump Start, Michigan will be the place where companies can find the skilled talent they need.

It will also be the place where job seekers can find opportunity.

Statistics show Michigan ranks number one with auto-related jobs in the nation, and with continued development, these numbers are only expected to grow.

With the Detroit region having the highest concentration of tech jobs in the Midwest and being a leader in automotive-related patents, Michigan will be a mecca for high-growth and exciting job opportunities.

Learn more about the automotive industry office here    http://www.michiganbusiness.org/automotive-industry-office/

For more information on talent programs or jobs in Michigan, visit http://www.mitalent.org/

{ 0 comments - Read and add your own }

Changes announced during Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address will soon open up the “River of Opportunity” to Michigan residents who face barriers such as poverty, family issues, disabilities, lack of education or lack access to transportation.

Helping people succeed, according to the Governor, means moving away from programs that only look at one piece of the puzzle, such as general unemployment.   The new approach will put people first by first understanding what’s holding them back and then developing an approach to put them on a path to success.

This focus means expanding programs for students that are at-risk of dropping out, job training for low income parents and helping those that struggle with long term unemployment.

Community Ventures, which helps structurally unemployed residents find career paths, is one program already working to solve these issues.

Structurally unemployed residents face barriers such as lack of education, lack of work experience and even limited access to transportation to get to work. The program looks at these barriers, rather than the unemployment itself, and develops an approach to help individuals solve it and find a job.

Travis Butler, a Detroit resident, had been looking for a job for years.  But lack of experience and transportation issues limited his job options and he faced the possibility of ending up homeless.   Listen to his story below.

When the housing crisis hit, many people working in the industry around the U.S. lost their jobs.  Saginaw resident Jeff Little was one of those affected.   Jeff lost his job in 2006 and soon, his wife was unemployed as well.  While he never gave up on his job search, his efforts were unsuccessful until he got involved with Community Ventures.  Here’s how he is doing now.

With this approach, more than 3,000 people have been placed in jobs.  And the more than 100 participating companies are finding success with the average annual retention rate of nearly 70 percent.

For more information on the State of the State address, visit http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-63747—,00.html

For more information or to get involved with Community Ventures, visit http://www.mitalent.org/community-ventures/

{ 0 comments - Read and add your own }

Each year, Michigan businesses take extra steps to create healthier workplaces, which make for happier employees, but can also increase productivity and job satisfaction while decreasing absenteeism and compensation costs. 

And each year, these initiatives are recognized by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports and the Michigan Fitness Foundation

Organizations that excel in health and wellness programs and that create best practices for others to replicate are honored with the Governor’s Outstanding Healthy Workplace Award.through the Healthy Workplace Awards. The awards recognize large, medium and small employers that provide a culture and emphasis on health and wellness.

NuStep is in the business of health and wellness, and was a 2014 winner in the medium-sized business category for its wellness initiatives which include group exercise classes, free fitness assessments, health screenings, smoking cessation programs, a healthy lunch program, Weight Watchers, Wellness Dollars and more.

In addition to businesses, individuals from around the state are honored for their efforts and commitment to making Michigan a healthier place.  

Jim Haveman, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), was the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Public Official Award.

“Something I’m very proud of is the MI Healthy Tomorrow Initiative, where we asked people to lose ten percent of their weight, ultimately cutting down on health care costs,” Haveman said. “And besides encouraging other people to take part, it’s something I invested in personally. To this date, I’ve lost more than 30 pounds.”

The Michigan Department of Community Health aims to protect, preserve, and promote the health and safety of the people of Michigan with particular attention to providing for the needs of vulnerable and under-served populations.

“I had my finger pointed out at people during a press conference saying we have to do this, and then I realized I had three fingers pointing at myself,” Haveman shared. “And that’s when I realized I personally had to do something, too.”

Besides the MI Healthy Tomorrow program, the MDCH serves to aid those with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and many other conditions that require assistance.

This year, the Governor’s fitness awards will be held on April 23, but the application deadline for nominees is quickly approachng and will officially close January 23.

Do you know a company or individual that should be nominated? To nominate someone for an award or to learn more about the Governor’s Fitness Awards, visit http://www.michiganfitness.org/gfa

{ 0 comments - Read and add your own }

The 2015 North American International Auto Show opened to the public this past weekend, drawing large crowds hoping to see some of the newest product launches and industry-changing innovations.  From Ford’s award-winning F-150 aluminum body and the Chevy Bolt to the first-ever 3D printed car, these technologies and innovations have one common thread:  brainpower.

As the industry continues to move into the next generation of mobility and connectivity, Michigan is positioning itself to be the place where companies go to find brainpower – the skilled talent that is critical to industry growth.

A Growing Design Industry

Industrial design helps to define a vehicle’s form, shape and visual appeal to align with what car buyers are looking for.  A new initiative announced last week will help build Michigan as a nexus for design.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley announced the creation of the Michigan Design Council, an effort to grow Michigan’s talent pool of design professionals.   The council, launched by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will benefit several industries, including automotive, and establish Detroit as a mecca for design, complementing the existing design industry in Grand Rapids.

“We have a strong creative class, a strong university network of design programs and a national city that is primed for its rebirth in the design community,” Calley said during the announcement.

Encouraging Careers in STEM

As the automotive industry continues to innovate, manufacturers and suppliers will be looking to hire.  This means good-paying career opportunities for the next generation of talent.

But, many of these jobs will require STEM skills and overall interest among students in pursuing these majors often lag.

In Michigan, students are realizing first-hand what it’s really like to work in these types of careers. Through MAT²®, students work with a participating employer while earning an Associate’s Degree, tuition-free.  Through their employer, they receive on-the-job training and a paycheck.

Kelsey Erne is one of the students currently participating in the program, attending Oakland Community College and working with Brose.

“It’s a very intense program, but I’m really excited about it because it’s all completely new material and I’m learning a lot,” said Erne.  “I was never given the opportunity to take technology classes in high school. It’s important to look at all of your options because programs like these give really great hands on experience.”

This program is among many initiatives helping to develop high-skilled talent in Michigan.

Interested in learning more about MAT2?  We are looking for employers and students to join the program.  Visit http://www.mitalent.org/mat2/ to learn more.

{ 0 comments - Read and add your own }

Michigan Leading the Way in Micro Lending for Small Businesses

January 20, 2015 Access to Capital

  Detroit will soon begin the removal of the blight that has affected the city’s neighborhoods and residents for many years, which in doing so, will create jobs throughout the city. Patrick Beal, CEO of Detroit-based Detroit Training Center saw this as an opportunity to help unemployed Detroit residents re-enter the workforce.  Through Detroit Training [...]

Read the full article 0 comments

Seven Reasons why Michigan is Leading U.S. Automotive Industry Growth

January 9, 2015 Business Growth

Gov. Rick Snyder isn’t the only leader noticing and touting Michigan’s economic comeback – President Barack Obama visited a Ford assembly plant in Wayne, Mich., where he recognized Michigan’s comeback and the role that the U.S. automotive industry plays in the nation’s economic comeback.  2014 was the strongest year for job growth in the United [...]

Read the full article 0 comments

Crowdfunding Approach Working to Revitalize Public Spaces in Michigan

January 5, 2015 Community Development

From big cities to small towns, vibrant public spaces help revitalize communities and downtowns, making them a magnet for business investment and talent attraction. However, creating these spaces successfully requires planning, collaboration among community and business leaders, and citizen participation. In Michigan, a unique program is working to create thriving places and a strong quality [...]

Read the full article 0 comments

2014 Proves Michigan is on the Rise

December 23, 2014 Access to Capital

To say this has been a fantastic year for the state of Michigan would be an understatement. It’s not every day you see private donors, community-development agencies, big businesses and a state come together to lift a city out of bankruptcy, but we proved it was possible. Over the past year, job growth in Michigan [...]

Read the full article 0 comments

Year in Review: A look at MEDC’s accomplishments in 2014 and what 2015 will hold for Michigan

December 18, 2014 MEDC Programs

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) made important advances this year in its historic shift of Michigan’s economic development strategy, which began in 2011. This year, the MEDC was recognized by the Urban Land Institute with a Real Estate Achievement Award for “being a real catalyst in the state” and was identified as one of [...]

Read the full article 0 comments

Techstars Aims to Make Detroit “Global Hub for Mobility”

December 16, 2014 Access to Capital

What a difference a year makes. Just over a year ago, the scene in Detroit portrayed by the media was anything but rosy – our city was in a state of financial emergency and had filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. It’s no secret that Motown is telling a different story today, [...]

Read the full article 0 comments