A Case for Hiring Veterans

Proving why veterans are perfect for the job

By Maurice Jones

Page 33

The military trains individuals to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation and inspiration. With a vast skillset acquired through their service, veterans serve as a tremendous asset to businesses and corporations of all sizes across a wide variety of industries. Military service members have a strong work ethic that typically accompanies top-notch education and training. Simply put, hiring veterans is good for business. The 2012 Study “Guide To Leading Policies, Practices & Resources: Supporting The Employment of Veterans & Military Families,” makes the case why veterans are great employees. Below are a few key points from the study. Access full study at vets.syr.edu.

Veterans Are Entrepreneurial:

Military training and socialization processes have been demonstrated to instill effective levels of self-efficacy, trust and a strong comfort with autonomy as well as a high need for achievement including effective decision-making in dynamic environments. According to the Small Business Association, military veterans are more likely than a nonveteran to pursue business ownership after serving.

Veterans Assume High Levels of Trust:

Military service members including personnel and veterans develop a strong propensity for trust and faith in coworkers, and also trust in organizational leadership. These abilities are constantly highlighted in organizational behavior literature as a significant quality in high-performance teams.

Veterans Are Adept at Skills Transfer Across Context/Tasks:

Service members often endure training that includes contingency and scenario-based pedagogy. As a result, cognitive heuristics are developed that apply knowledge/skills to transfer between tasks and situations. Veterans are particularly skilled in the ability to recognize and act on opportunities to transfer skills.

Veterans Have [and Leverage] Advanced Technical Training:

Veterans have been exposed to advanced technology and training that is often accelerated compared to a non-military employee. Members of the service have the ability to link technology-based solutions to organizational challenges and transfer technological skills to work tasks. Not only do military veterans have more exposure to high technology than their age group peers, but they make the most of it.

Veterans Are Comfortable/Adept in Discontinuous Environments:

The business environment is dynamic and uncertain, and firms are highlighted when they are able to meet the day-to-day changes and challenges. Research has demonstrated that the military experience is directly correlated in evaluating a dynamic decision-making environment. This ability is particularly strong in veterans that have been in a combat environment.

Veterans Exhibit High Levels of Resiliency:

The business strategy and applied psychology literature highlights the positive benefits of resiliency instilled in employees. Service members often have the ability to recover from failed professions and personal experience quicker than those who have not served.

Veterans Exhibit Advanced Team-Building Skills:

Research finds that veterans capture the key components of communication, equal time listening and talking, frequent informal communication, and engagement with those outside the team. Veterans are adept in organizing and defining team goals.

Veterans Exhibit Strong Organizational Commitment:

Military institutions provide adept socialization which informs veterans of the strong link between the individual and the organization. Veterans pay attention to detail when it comes to customs, organizational norms and ethical standards due to military training.

Veterans Have [and Leverage] Cross-Cultural Experiences:

Military service today requires and dictates that veterans must be skilled at operating across cultures and international boundaries. These services include higher levels of cultural sensitivity, speaking more languages fluently and more international experience, all while having a competitive advantage for the firm as globalization increases.

Veterans Have Experience/Skill in Diverse Work Settings:

Research continuously highlights the fact that all-volunteer military represents a reliable workforce with dynamic dimensions. These include educational background, ethnicity, culture, values and goals of organizational members. Multiple studies show that as a result of these dimensions, military service members are highly accepting of individual differences in a work setting.

Maurice Jones is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

Employing Veterans

Syracuse University provides resources for businesses

Page 32

By Ingrid Sjostrand

Despite support for hiring veterans, many businesses lack the resources and research to create effective initiatives for veteran employment.

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University collaborated with 30 private sector employers and gathered the latest research from reputable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, to help solve this problem. The result was a research publication entitled “The Guide To Leading Policies, Practices & Resources: Supporting the Employment of Veterans & Military Families.”

The goal of this publication is to give employers the tools they need to successfully integrate veterans into the civilian workforce. This report breaks down the reasons behind low veteran employment rates, the challenges employers face, and potential solutions based on leading research and real examples from employers such as JPMorgan Chase & Company, AT&T, Disney and Microsoft. To access the full study visit: vets.syr.edu.

The Challenges:

A key part of the Syracuse study explores the most common challenges, suggests resources and strategies from academic research, and provides examples from leading employers. Below are a few of the obstacles employers face and some suggested practices. (Note: These have been edited for length and only provide a snapshot of the actual study, challenges and recommendations.)

1. Challenge: Articulating a Business Case for Veterans

Moving a comprehensive, veteran-focused employment program forward can be difficult without a clearly communicated case for why hiring veterans is “good for business.”

Recommendation: Disseminate the business case to hiring managers and key influencers, such as board members, to communicate the potential value that a veteran brings to the civilian workforce. Also, customize a business case that links the value of the veteran to your particular firm.

2. Challenge: Certification, License and Experience

Fully leveraging the skills and experiences of military veterans can be a challenge as many businesses lack a full understanding of how a veteran’s training and education correlate to civilian life and work. Many military work roles require licensing and certifications if performed in the civilian workforce.

Recommendation: Identify those work roles within your organization that require state or federal licensure or certification, and concurrently identify those military occupations that assume similar skills, training and experience.

3. Challenge: Skills Transferability, Supply and Demand

Often there is a perception that skills and experiences gained through military service do not always correlate to the work role responsibilities typical of many civilian sector jobs.

Recommendation: Many of the available Military Occupational Specialty translator tools can assist with mapping civilian work roles to military occupations.

4. Challenge: Culture, Leadership Champions and Veterans’ Employment

Pursuing veteran-focused employment initiatives in a rigid, inflexible or idiosyncratic corporate culture makes implementation of specialized hiring initiatives difficult to institutionalize within the firm.

Recommendation: Firms pursuing veteran-focused employment programs should establish an executive level champion for such initiatives and consider establishing a firm-wide advisory board on veterans’ initiatives, chaired by the executive level champion. The executive level champion should plan a consistent, cohesive communication strategy focused on veterans’ issues over a significant period of time.

Ingrid Sjostrand is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

September 2012: Driving an Army

TACOM’s Warren facility continues to drive Army

By Amanda Lee

Pages 13-14

While Southeast Michigan rightly became synonymous with the moniker the “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II, the proud legacy can sometimes lead to misconceptions about the level of innovation still occurring in the region’s defense industry.

The U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) headquarters in Macomb County
serves as one of the best avenues of bringing cutting-edge technology, equipment and supplies to the warfighter on the 21st century battlefield. It stands as a leader in the defense industry for the development, acquisition, fielding and support of ground and soldier equipment.

“We are the center of excellence for the ground combat vehicles and support the majority of the equipment in a Brigade Combat Team, which is our basic maneuver formation in the Army,” TACOM’s Major General Michael J. Terry said. “With our partnerships with TARDEC and the Program Executive Offices: Ground Combat Systems, Combat Support and Combat Service Support and Solider, and academic and industry, we are constantly researching, developing and fielding the latest technology – never losing focus of why we exist – to support the soldier, our most precious resource.”

“Our mission is to develop, acquire, field and sustain soldier and ground systems for the warfighter through the integration of effective and timely acquisition, logistics and cutting-edge technology.”

While headquartered in Warren, TACOM LCMC has over 24,000 personnel at more than 100 locations worldwide, including seven total U.S. locations. Of that number, the 170-acre Warren location has 7,887 full-time civilians and contractor employees and 236 military members. TACOM’s total annual command payroll is over $2.4 billion dollars. Its contracting center executed over $16 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2011 – with a lot of that money staying right here in
Southeast Michigan.

As an LCMC, TACOM works to transform soldier and grounds systems, providing the Army and the U.S. Department of Defense with more flexible and versatile combat capability within a more adaptive and responsive management structure.

“Simply put, we support a diverse set of products throughout their life cycles, from combat and tactical vehicles, armaments, watercraft, fuel and water distribution equipment, to soldier, biological and chemical equipment,” said Terry, who noted TACOM manages more than 2,000 major and 34,000 secondary items for the Army.

“TACOM has been at the forefront of ensuring Army readiness for nearly 70 years and has constantly been evolving during this time,” he said. “Our roots go back to World War II’s Arsenal of Democracy in Detroit. That was when, in 1941, the first M3 Lee Medium Tank was produced at a Detroit Arsenal tank plant here in Warren.”

Despite that legacy, there are no shortage of challenges as the nation debates cuts to forces and defense spending heading into a presidential election.

“The Army and TACOM LCMC are in the midst of a major ongoing transformation of our product, processes, people and culture. The revitalization of our industrial base facilities is one of our key current initiatives. Our stakeholders, the American public, need to understand the value of the work we perform.”

As the defense industry awaits key budget decisions by the federal government, Terry said the U.S. Army has been the beneficiary of ample resources over the past decade, which helped place the country’s major weapon systems at the highest readiness rate in history. He added that funding has been there to support more than 1.1 million soldiers who have deployed to combat during the past 10 years.

“As our Army continues to perform unified land operations around the world, we will ensure we are postured to support future requirements when and where called as we await future budget decisions, which will most likely have an effect on the Army,” he said. “The fiscal reality is that we will get smaller. How we do it is the hard part.

“Setting priorities and channeling resources will be the next step in our efforts to ensure we provide the capabilities that our force needs in the future,” he continued. “I believe we will be facing some challenging times, but our Army and TACOM will continue to execute our mission requirements based on the guidance provided by our senior leaders.”

Terry stressed that TACOM will continue to ensure those at the facility are “wise stewards” of the resources they are entrusted with. He said that TACOM has achieved validated cost efficiencies of $138 million in fiscal year 2010 and $151 million in fiscal year 2011.

“Some of the key operational challenges we see facing us and the defense industry include maintaining employee critical skills sets, and ensuring we maintain a viable and responsive industrial base in a time of constrained resources,” he said. “We are also facing industrial base challenges, such as identifying requirements in the out years, workload alignment, balancing commercial and organic capabilities, rightsizing the industrial base, and maintaining and sustaining the roles and missions of our depots and arsenals.”

Amanda Lee is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

September 2012: Committed to Excellence

New TACOM LCMC commander committed to warfighter

By Amanda Lee

Page 12

The value of innovation is never more apparent than on the battlefield where the American warfighter puts his or her life in peril to defend their country and way of life. Few operations play a more prominent role in providing for those soldiers than TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) in Warren.

The TACOM LCMC gained new leadership as Major General Michael J. Terry took over command in a formal ceremony on June 21 at the Detroit Arsenal.

“My top priority is always providing support to the soldier. It’s the reason this command exists,” he said. “The soldier is at the center of our TACOM LCMC mission and vision statements and we’re organizationally aligned to get soldiers what they need, when they need it and where they need it.”

“The TACOM motto is ‘committed to excellence,’” he continued. “We like to say ‘if a soldier eats it, wears it, drives it or shoots it … TACOM LCMC develops, supplies or sustains it.’ We have always and will continue to always lead the way to keep them safe.”

Terry succeeds outgoing commander Major General Kurt J. Stein, who served as TACOM’s commanding general from January 2010. Terry previously served at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where he was the commanding general of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

“Mike has plenty of sand in his boots and knows what it takes to support our warfighters,” said U.S. Army Materiel Command  Commander General Dennis L. Via, who officiated the ceremony in June.  “He has the experience, vision and passion to position TACOM for exciting years ahead.”

Terry, a native of Pennsylvania, received his commission and a Bachelor of Science degree in law enforcement from the University of Scranton in 1979 and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He is married and has three children.

For his part, Terry says TACOM’s place in the defense industry has never been more important.

Terry said he is excited to be at the helm of TACOM and eager to build partnerships throughout Southeast Michigan.

“I am very excited about our involvement in the area, the partnerships we have formed, the career opportunities we provide and most of all, the heart of our people who always lead the way in support and volunteer efforts for events where and when needed,” he said. “We are and will continue

to be an integral part of the team and look forward to the continued success and working relationship with our community partners.”

While TACOM is focused on helping the Army take innovation to another level, Terry says TACOM’s current operation goals aren’t much different than they have been in years past.

“The background of the TACOM LCMC is steeped in the World War II industrial mobilization of the United States,” he explained. “Even before the start of World War II, Army and business visionaries came together and built the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, what would soon become synonymous with the Arsenal of Democracy.

“Seventy years later, the Detroit Arsenal, home of the TACOM LCMC, is still at the forefront of providing our modern day warfighters with the equipment they need to fight yet another global conflict,” he continued. “From the very beginning through today, the mission of the TACOM LCMC has remained constant. For 70 years, our command never lost sight of our primary focus – our soldiers.”

Amanda Lee is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

September 2012: A Good Fit

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel discusses Michigan’s defense industry

By James Martinez

Pages 10-11

Elected as Macomb County Executive in November 2010, Mark Hackel has had a strong focus on economic development, including the automotive industry and advanced manufacturing. With Macomb County’s existing assets, the defense industry is a crucial component of those efforts. In this question-and-answer with the Detroiter, Hackel discusses the defense industry and his efforts to actively promote the county as the defense capital of the Midwest.

What makes Macomb County and Michigan such a good fit for the defense industry?

Companies that want to get ahead locate close to the action.

It’s our collective ability to innovate, create and produce goods.  We have an unequalled expertise in developing the world’s most advanced and lethal ground combat vehicles. President Franklin D. Roosevelt realized our strength and ability to retool to begin building tanks in Warren more than 70 years ago when he turned to Chrysler Corporation when our allies were struggling to win a war.  This lead to the establishment of strong assets including TACOM, TARDEC, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, several world-renowned prime defense contractors, over 500 area defense contractors, and a vibrant workforce of engineers and skilled labor.

In fact, a Defense Industry Strategy Taskforce has been developed through a partnership between Macomb County, Macomb Community College and the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.  The purpose of this task force focuses on identifying, prioritizing and developing strategies to sustain and enhance the regional defense industry.

What type of impact does the defense industry have on Macomb County?

Macomb County represents the largest volume dollar of defense contracting on a per county basis in the state of Michigan, and is home to approximately 65 percent of the defense businesses in the state.  Over the last 10 years, defense contractors within Macomb County have been awarded contracts from the Department of Defense totaling more than $26 billion.  Primary contracts range upwards from a small moving company to the multi-million dollar contracts awarded to our locally-based defense suppliers such as General Dynamics Land Systems.

Every one of these contracts is part of a vast supplier network that helps to create jobs and investment in Macomb County.

What type of defense jobs do you see Macomb County supporting moving forward? What type of workforce will it take to support those jobs?

The Southeast Michigan region has a strong talent pool of engineers and dedicated professionals with a deep knowledge in new technology.  The jobs of the future will focus on engineering, robotics, cyber security, and modeling and simulation.

The recent summit, Seeing 2020: Ensuring Skills Preparedness in the Southeast Michigan Defense Sector, hosted by Macomb Community College demonstrated that we are proactively creating the workforce of tomorrow through collaboration within the defense industry.

In the last decade or so, we have witnessed quantum leaps in technology that have made our lives easier, faster and safer.  Macomb County and the region – offering a depth of research, technology and engineering expertise – are well equipped to meet the future workforce needs.

Often the mainstream perception of the defense industry can be quite narrow, focusing in on just the military. What do you the think the average Michigander doesn’t realize about the defense industry?

The military is not simply about weapons and combat vehicles. It is an organization that employs and manages people. There are millions of contract dollars that go to everyday companies like Kellogg and Herman Miller – so the opportunities are open to a wide range of businesses in all types of industries.
Military technology is often created with partnerships with private industry and universities.  The federal government contracts with higher education and business to develop technologically superior advantages on the battlefield.  These innovations are frequently adapted for mass civilian use.  Examples include the microwave, GPS, Infrared, prosthetic limbs and even Kleenex!

With the emergence of the global economy driven by high-tech innovation, how has the defense industry changed over the past few years? How do you adjust for changes that can emerge so quickly? 

Our biggest defense suppliers – GDLS, BAE, Oshkosh – don’t just supply the American forces, but also our allies.

Michigan’s strength is innovation.  In fact, this global demand for high-tech innovation works in our favor. Allied countries are seeking the technology that is developed here.  Companies within the U.S. defense industry are responding to this demand which diversifies their business.  They have accomplished this by working with allies to sell their products outside of the United States.  This trade is heavily regulated to ensure the superiority of the United States military but helps this country to strengthen supporting forces.

What are the biggest challenges facing Michigan’s defense industry?

Political uncertainty is the biggest challenge facing the nation’s defense industry.  Sequestration could significantly cut the budget of the Department of Defense, in a manner that would be detrimental to the nation’s defense industrial base.

How do you see the footprint of key assets like TACOM and Selfridge Air National Guard Base changing in the future?

Although a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) has been shelved for 2013, we must always prepare for continual adjustments to the Department of Defense. In the last BRAC (2005), we were able to enhance our local facilities with gains from Rock Island, Illinois.  This area needs to continue to add value to the military.  Again, it’s the symbiotic relationship between our private industry, higher education and military installations.  It’s not just the value the military brings to this area, it’s the advantages we offer the military and national defense.  If we continue this line of thinking,  I am hopeful Michigan’s assets – TACOM LCMC and Selfridge ANG – will be expanded.

In Macomb County you’ve focused on driving the defense industry and worked to position your county as the defense capital of the world. How does the rest of the country and the world view Michigan’s defense industry?

I’m not sure there is an overwhelming impression that Michigan has a robust defense industry. Michigan and the Detroit area are just starting to realize how important it is to market our strengths.  The success of the Pure Michigan campaign is direct evidence of that importance and evidence that
we need to promote what we do and who we are.

Changing that for the defense industry is our exact goal for Macomb and the region.

With world-renowned defense contractors such as General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE Systems, and Oshkosh Defense, Macomb County’s defense industry certainly has unique and important strengths that contribute greatly to the nation’s military capabilities.

Other locales in the nation focus on serving other aspects of the military. Our strengths are in ground vehicles, robotics and modeling and simulation, and we are growing our prowess in serving the aerospace industry as well.

Where do you see the defense industry 20 years from now?

Obviously I cannot speak for the industry as a whole.  As for what happens in our area – I would like to see enhanced collaboration between the military, the higher education community and private industry. This coexistence has benefited our economy and our nation.

Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?

Check out the new website from the Defense Industry Strategy Taskforce (Macomb Community College, New Economy Initiative and Macomb County) www.southeastmichigandefense.com

From 2000-2010, the Department of Defense contracted activities or awarded grants totaling $1.6 billion for research and development to organizations within Macomb County alone. Let’s grow these opportunities across Michigan!

James Martinez is associate editor of the Detroiter.

September 2012: Capital of Defense

The high tech defense industry shifts into overdrive

By James Amend

Pages 8-9

For more than a century Detroit has been known as the capital of the global automotive industry, but in recent years its reputation as a high-tech hub for the defense industry has shifted into overdrive.

Armchair historians know well the role Southeast Michigan played during World War II, when car and truck factories were retooled to build tanks and planes, and the acknowledgment it received at the time from President Roosevelt when he coined it “The Arsenal of Democracy.”

But the region’s modern contribution to America’s defense and homeland security sectors no longer centers solely on nuts-and-bolts production; rather, the focus lies on delivering the latest battlefield technologies to save lives and support warfighters around the world.

“It is a multi-billion-dollar industry for Macomb County and Southeast Michigan,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “It is incredible. We are now known as the Arsenal of Innovation.”

Known as the Michigan Defense Corridor, several dozen defense contractors occupy a stretch of six square miles along the Mound Road and Van Dyke Avenue corridors in Macomb County, anchored by the U.S. Army’s sprawling TACOM Life Cycle Management Command in Warren.

Hackel estimates at least 500 businesses surrounding the corridor now do some measure of defense business.

Consider Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township and the corridor widens to some 58 square miles. Add in Camp Grayling in Crawford County and businesses in Grand Rapids and the state stands as a hub of defense business activity.

Companies in the Michigan Defense Corridor aren’t supplying mop handles, either.

They are involved in providing military products like the highest-security information technology solutions and construction services not only here in Michigan, but as far abroad as Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps most significantly, they are devising new, energy-saving ideas that trim the reliance of our armed forces’ wheeled vehi

cles on foreign oil and allow them to do more with less on the battlefield.

Brigadier General Mike Stone serves as assistant adjutant general for installations for the U.S. National Guard, tasked with bringing more military training to the 145,000-acre and nearly 100-year-old Camp Grayling in Northern Lower Michigan.

As such, he’s had a front-row seat to watching the corridor grow over the years and only expects it to accelerate, ironically, because government is undergoing the same belt-tightening the automotive industry went through three years ago.

“We’re interested in delivering more firepower with fewer people, so we have to embrace technology and the government can no longer do it by spending millions of dollars on its own,” Stone said. “We need to collaborate with industry.”

The government’s new spending habits open the doors for businesses across the nation, big and small, who are jostling for a share of the U.S. Department of Defense’s $90 billion annual research and development budget.

Defense businesses have good reason to set up shop in Michigan, given Warren-based TACOM’s mission to conduct research, development and purchasing to support the Army’s readiness. Its annual contract budget approaches $15 billion and its sister unit in Warren, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, spends 70 percent of its budget with Michigan companies.

The combination has led defense industry giants such as BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems to locate in the region.

But Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of weapons systems at BAE Systems, which recently opened a new $60 million office complex in Sterling Heights housing 600 staffers, said there is more to the story.

“In that (defense) corridor, I can find any capability I need to execute a program,” Signorelli said.

Signorelli says the corridor puts services such as rapid prototyping, three-dimensional modeling and advanced simulation tools within steps of BAE’s doorstep. He also cites the availability of contract engineering houses, such as Livonia-based Roush Industries and Pratt & Miller Engineering of New Hudson.

As home to the auto industry for more than 100 years, the region also contains a wealth of mechanical, electrical and software engineering talent, he said, ranging from longtime veterans of the Detroit Three and Tier One suppliers to those newly graduated from the region’s excellent engineering schools.

“The skills we see in the auto industry complement what we need in defense,” he said.

Business friendly groups are also getting more active in wooing the defense industry to the region.

For example, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation awarded BAE Systems a tax credit valued at $22.1 million over 14 years, plus a $460,000 job training grant for new hires. The city of Sterling Heights also threw in a 12-year tax abatement worth $4.6 million.

BAE Systems didn’t start from scratch, either. The company took an industrial site formerly occupied by an automotive supplier.

In addition, the corridor sits within an MEDC Smart Zone focused exclusively on accelerating entrepreneurial talent and infrastructure in the area of defense, homeland security, alternative energy and advanced manufacturing. It’s a federal HubZone, too, which means small businesses operating there are eligible for preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.

Perry Mehta, founder, president and CEO of FutureNet Group, a Detroit-based provider of environmental, construction and technology services to the military and mainstream commercial customers, typifies the sort of business leader envisioned for the Michigan Defense Corridor.

Mehta started FutureNet Group in 1994 on a shoestring budget and today the business boasts 100 employees with four offices across the country and defense contracts around the globe. He conducts 90 percent of his business with the federal government, taking advantage of opportunities such
as HubZone qualification.

Mehta’s advice to small business owners seeking federal work is simple: Find a good mentor to help guide you through the red tape of the federal procurement certification, exercise financial discipline by reinvesting in your company and stay focused on your small business’ expertise.

“Figure out what your small business is good at and keep working at it,” says Mehta, the 2011 recipient of the Small Business Administration’s Small Minority Business Person of the Year. “I’m a great example of that.”

A good start for any small business would be to contact the local Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which helps businesses compete in the government marketplace. Two other key resources include the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which provide funding awards to engage in federal research and development projects.

The task ahead of the Michigan Defense Corridor is to get the word out about the resources the region has to offer.

“It may not be known nationally that we are a nexus of defense activity, but that is changing,” said Dan Raubinger, director of defense and manufacturing at Automation Alley, Southeast Michigan’s technology business association.

For its part, Automation Alley organizes two domestic trade missions each year, hosting between 10 and 20 local defense companies at a pair of defense industry trade shows boasting 30,000 attendees. That’s almost three times the number of industry experts attending the annual Society of Automotive Engineers’ World Congress in Detroit.

“We’re branding Michigan as a place to do defense business,” Raubinger said.

James Amend is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

Defense Industry: Innovation, Technology and Talent Position Michigan for Success

By Sandy K. BaruahPage 5

At the 2011 Mackinac Policy Conference, Harvard Professor Michael Porter, the father of the international competitiveness movement, presented an important observation to Conference attendees. In discussing the keys to economic development, he explained that industry clusters do not just develop randomly. Rather, one cluster gives rise to another and so on, which leads to economic growth.

There are few finer examples of this principle than the relationship between Michigan’s automotive and defense industries. The innovation, technology and talent that make Michigan the global epicenter of the automotive world are the same assets that helped the defense industry flourish in Southeast Michigan. It was no coincidence that when the United States needed innovation during World War II they turned to Michigan.

It rightly serves as a point of pride locally that during World War II, Detroit and Southeast Michigan became known as the Arsenal of Democracy. But what cannot be lost in honoring that iconic legacy is that our region is still a hotbed of innovation in the defense industry. It is no coincidence that the military continues to look to Southeast Michigan for the latest research, technology and products.

That level of innovation leaves a major economic footprint. There are more than 3,656 businesses in the Detroit region serving the defense industry and in 2011, approximately $3.7 billion in defense contracts were awarded to businesses in the region. That same year, businesses serving the defense industry in the Detroit region earned revenue of $14.9 billion.

Those numbers, along with assets like TACOM LCMC, TARDEC, Selfridge Air National Guard Base and major global players like Oshkosh, BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems demonstrate that Southeast Michigan is still providing the nation an arsenal of innovation, more than 50 years after World War II ended.

The brave men and women who serve in the armed forces are also a crucial component to Michigan maintaining and expanding its productivity. The Detroit Regional Chamber has been working with Governor Rick Snyder on veterans issues, and is fully committed when it comes to supporting veterans for two primary reasons:

1) It is the right thing to do. We owe it to those who risked their lives protecting our freedoms to support them as they look for careers after their service.

2) Integrating veterans into Michigan’s workforce will send a wave of highly talented and skilled individuals into the state’s economy.

This issue of the Detroiter is an acknowledgement of that continued innovation and the economic footprint of one of the region’s most dynamic industries. It comes, however, at a time when an uncertain national economy and growing national debt will most certainly impact the defense business in Southeast Michigan.

While that can be disheartening, remembering a simple lesson of the global economy is important. It takes adaptation and collaboration to keep industries thriving in the global economy. Hurdles for all industries, including defense, will continue to emerge. The needs of the nation and the military will change. National and global politics will change. Despite the fact that the region and state have a proven track record of ingenuity and innovation, it is going to take collectively leveraging all our assets to drive economic prosperity.

Moving forward, integrating veterans in the workforce and the performance of the defense industry will be two indicators of Michigan’s economic performance.  Professor Porter challenged the Mackinac Policy Conference attendees to continue to make the region and state a productive location. Southeast Michigan has a legacy of unrivaled productivity and innovation.  The trick now is to continue to adapt and to keep Michigan’s place as a capital of innovation, and in doing so, a capital of the nation’s defense.

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

Guest commentary: Don’t miss this opportunity; authorize a rapid transit authority

From the Detroit Free Press
September 27, 2012

The time is now for southeast Michigan to take the next important step toward a stronger economy. Far too often, partisan disagreements get in the way of progress, but right now we have a unique opportunity to rise above the old divisions of the past and make an investment in our region’s future.

As leaders from the business community, organized labor and the federal government, we have united to call on our elected officials in Lansing to pass legislation to create a regional transit authority (RTA).

This is a time-sensitive matter. The federal government is poised to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to match $120 million in private investments, but this is contingent on the formation of an RTA. This is an opportunity for Michigan taxpayers to see some of their hard-earned federal tax dollars return to the state in needed infrastructure that will spur job creation and economic growth. If Lansing does not act now, these federal dollars could end up being invested in another state.

One might wonder why business and labor are coming together to back this proposal. The answer is simple: Investing in a regional transit system will create thousands of new jobs for Michiganders by providing new economic development opportunities for businesses to thrive in all of our communities.

When you look at the benefits of investing in a regional transit system, it’s obvious why such a diverse coalition, including a group of bipartisan leaders in Lansing, is uniting on this issue.

First and foremost, to accelerate Michigan’s economic recovery and to be competitive in the global marketplace, the greater Detroit region must once again be on the path to success — and a common element of successful cities is effective regional transit.

A great example is Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue Corridor, where they’ve invested $200 million in a Bus Rapid Transit system that has generated more than $4.3 billion in new private investments. By installing fixed stations, they created hubs of activity where entrepreneurs launched new businesses, investors have built new attractive housing, and once depressed neighborhoods have started to grow.

These investments will also create thousands of new, good-paying jobs for workers in our region. Construction workers will build the transit system, skilled people will operate the system, and new retailers will hire employees to serve the thousands of riders who go to transit stations every day.

With these new jobs, more of our neighbors will have more money in their pockets to spend at other businesses throughout our region, creating even more jobs and ensuring greater job security.

Finally, with up to 90% of low-income individuals lacking reliable transportation, a new regional transit system will give them the means to find and keep a job or access needed skills training. For many of our neighbors, access to mass transit is a pathway out of poverty and into the middle class — and that’s good for all of us.

Effective mass transit is about much more than just getting from point A to point B; it’s about driving economic growth and making this a more attractive place for both businesses and employees.

Because of all of the positive ways regional transit will grow our economy, we’ve brought a diverse coalition together to get it done. Now it’s time for Lansing to join us. There are not many major public policy issues the three of us can readily agree on, but this is one where Democrats and Republicans, employers and employees, and urban and suburban interests all agree. Let’s act now.

Gary Peters, a Democrat from Bloomfield Township, represents Michigan’s 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sandy Baruah is president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Chris Michalakis is president of the metro Detroit AFL-CIO.

September 25, 2012: Chamber PAC Makes General Election Endorsements; Former Chamber Staffer Named Director of U.S. Mint

Detroit Regional Chamber PAC Announces Endorsements for Michigan house, Supreme Court, Congressional Races

Last week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) announced its endorsements for the Michigan House of Representatives, Supreme Court and congressional races. The PAC Board of Directors regularly meets to identify and support pro-business candidates and policies that support the Chamber’s public policy priorities.

“With seats on the Michigan Supreme Court on the line, this election is critical to maintaining the momentum created by Governor Rick Snyder’s reforms,” said Brad Williams, the Chamber’s vice president of government relations. “This year’s slate of endorsed candidates represents a talented and diverse cross-section of the state who will assist in continuing Michigan’s reinvention.”

The PAC endorsements were made after careful consideration and input from a Chamber PAC survey, PAC members and the Chamber’s government affairs team. The Chamber’s top priorities when considering candidate support are continued support of the New International Trade Crossing, the repeal of the state’s personal property tax, implementation of a system of regional transit and increased investment in Michigan’s vital transportation system.

For a full list of PAC endorsed House and Supreme Court candidates, click here. For a list of congressional candidates, click here.

President Obama Nominates Former Chamber Staffer Bibiana Boerio as Director of U.S. Mint

The Detroit Regional Chamber congratulates former special advisor to the Chamber president Bibiana “Bibie” Boerio for her presidential nomination to director of the U.S. Mint in the U.S. Department of Treasury. The White House made the announcement last week. Bibie served the Chamber from March 2011 to February 2012 and played a key role in the launch of the Chamber’s MICHauto program in January.

Bibie has had a long, successful career including serving as Chief of Staff for Congressman Joe Sestak, and more than 30 years in the automotive industry including managing director for Jaguar Cars, Ltd. from 2004-2007, director of finance and strategy for Ford International Operations from 2003-2004 and executive vice president and chief financial officer for Ford Motor Credit Company from 2000-2003. To read the full White House press release, click here.

Oakland Community College Names Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development to Foundation Board

The Detroit Regional Chamber congratulates its Vice President of Economic Development, Maureen Donahue Krauss, who was elected to serve a three-year term on the Oakland Community College (OCC) Foundation Board of Directors last week. Three additional directors were also elected, including Richard Berkfield, Antoine Joubert and Marc Strandquist. The objective of the OCC Foundation Board of Directors is to generate resources for OCC students and the college, and to advance awareness, knowledge and the perception of OCC. To read more, click here.

Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee Announces General Election Endorsements in Congressional Races

DETROIT, September 24, 2012 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors announced endorsements in congressional races for the general election in Michigan.

“Having a strong Congressional bipartisan delegation fighting for us in Washington is crucial to maintaining Michigan’s economic recovery,” said the Chamber’s Vice President of Government Affairs Brad Williams. “The business community needs advocates who will stand up for our interests and get results. Through our PAC, the Detroit Regional Chamber supports candidates and incumbents who have demonstrated their support for pushing through the partisan gridlock and working on public policy that will keep Michigan’s economy on track.”

The Chamber PAC Board of Directors regularly meets to identify and support pro-business candidates and policies that support the Chamber’s public policy priorities. After careful consideration, the Chamber PAC Board of Directors made endorsements based on responses to a Chamber PAC survey, input from PAC members and personal interviews with leading candidates interested in the Chamber’s endorsement.

District 2: Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland)
District 4: Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland)
District 5: Dan Kildee (D-Flint Twp.)
District 6: Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph)
District 9: Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak)
District 10: Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Twp.)
District 12: Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn)
District 14: Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Hills)

For a full list of Chamber endorsements, visit the Chamber website.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber
With over 20,000 members and affiliates, that employ over three-quarters of a million workers, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the largest chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission is carried out through business attraction efforts, advocacy, strategic partnerships and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

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