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. Click here for a recap of the day’s events.

Business Attraction Leads Trade Mission to China, Joins Governor in Beijing

Opportunities for China firms to invest in the Detroit region have never been greater, and the Chamber’s Business Attraction continues to provide potential investors the demographic and industry information they need in their investment decisions.

Recently, Business Attraction’s Justin Robinson visited China as part of a 20-day trade mission that included visits to Ningbo, Shanghai, Dalian and Beijing. The mission was divided into three distinct sections, each closely coordinated with a different public and private partners including stops at the 2013 Chinese International Auto Parts Expo (CIAPE) and Governor Rick Snyder’s Asian trade mission. The ultimate goal of each leg of the trip was the same – communicate the opportunities for Chinese companies to do business in Michigan and Detroit markets and build relationships with key governments, associations and companies.

At the front end of the trip, Robinson teamed up with Dickinson Wright for speaking engagements and one-on-one company calls in Ningbo and Dalian. These opportunities were facilitated by the Dickinson China Team ( Mark Heusel, Peter Pang and Lianne Yan) and featured a new presentation focused on a theme continually voiced by the Chinese government and businesses – the realities of doing business in the U.S. and within the North American automotive market. In total, the team spoke to more than 80 businesses as part of two separate speaking engagements and met with numerous companies one-on-one.

The second phase of the visit centered on joining Governor Snyder’s Asian mission in both Shanghai and Beijing. In addition to participating in a handful of private meetings with companies and government officials, Business Attraction co-hosted two receptions with the American Chamber of Commerce in China. Another key focus was to communicate with Chinese media the realities of the Detroit bankruptcy. Governor Snyder and Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah met with a number of Chinese and international media outlets in Beijing to explain what bankruptcy means in the U.S. versus other countries. They also held a press conference showcasing the great opportunities for Chinese companies to invest in Michigan and Detroit.

The final leg of the trip marked the third year the Chamber has coordinated a regional contingent at CIAPE. This year’s team featured Miller Canfield, Oakland County, and the city of Auburn Hills. Highlights included an opportunity to speak to more than 280 attendees at the Auto Industry Action Group’s CIAPE Forum, participation in the Michigan Pavilion (the only U.S. state represented), and targeted calls on more than 50 Chinese and international companies attending this year’s trade show.

Overall, this year’s 2013 fall China mission was a huge success but now the real work begins, following up on all of the relationships, leads and opportunities created during the mission.

Detroit Scholarship Fund Enrolls Over 500 Students in First Year

More than 500 Detroit high school graduates from the class of 2013 have enrolled as full-time community college students this fall, with the help of the new Detroit Scholarship Fund (DSF). Administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber, the DSF offers graduates of any Detroit high school a tuition-free path to an associate’s degree at any of the five community colleges located in metro Detroit. Students are required to apply for needs-based financial aid – with the exception of loans – with the DSF covering the remaining expenses. The program is funded by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF), which was introduced by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder at the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference.

In addition to financial assistance, the Detroit Scholarship Fund also provides students with adequate academic support. Each of the five participating community colleges – Wayne County, Oakland, Macomb, Henry Ford and Schoolcraft – have implemented student support programs, ensuring that students complete orientation, have an academic plan and have access to intervention programs.

Chamber Hosts New Automotive Adviser, Promotes Industry at Frankfurt Auto Show

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Business Attraction team attended the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany from Sept. 12-13. The event is the world’s most comprehensive auto show for vehicle developers and manufacturers. The Chamber coordinated research, and outreach for meetings with Nigel Francis, Michigan’s newly-announced senior automotive adviser. Other local leaders who played a role included: Martina Schlagwein (MEDC), Ray Byers (Wayne County EDGE), Dan Doescher (Plante Moran), Nick Stasevich (Butzel Long) and Rick Walewender (Miller Canfield).

The team met with roughly 100 global companies to promote the benefits of locating their operations in the Detroit region, and also touched base with existing Detroit-area firms about the new technology that the event showcased.

Among all the networking the Chamber was able to accomplish on behalf of Detroit and Michigan, there were a few key takeaways from the auto show:

  • The Michigan automotive industry is widely recognized to be on an upward trajectory, and the Detroit region continues to be the global epicenter of the automotive industry.
  • Suppliers and multipliers understand that bankruptcy is a necessary step for Detroit and that the move will not be deterrent for the expansion of operations into the region.
  • Michigan’s strong workforce continues to be the state’s most attractive attribute.

Click here to read Metromode’s feature on The Chamber’s own Maureen Krauss and her efforts to bring foreign markets and investment to Metro-Detroit.

MICHauto’s ‘Michigan is Auto’ Piece Wins MEDA Award

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto program received a prestigious Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) award recently for its “Michigan is Auto” marketing piece. Maureen Krauss, the Chamber’s vice president of economic development-business attraction, and Rob Luce, program manager of MICHauto, were on hand for the award presentation during the MEDA’s annual conference at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids.

The “Michigan is Auto” report took first place in the printed materials category for regions with a population greater than 500,000. Released in January and distributed at the North American International Auto Show, “Michigan is Auto” is a substantive report detailing Michigan’s automotive assets and overall business climate. The 20-page piece is being used by the Chamber to attract business and investment to the region, and is available to economic developers throughout the state for their business attraction efforts. For more information, visit

OpTech Repeats as a “Metropolitan Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For”

September 27, 2013 – OpTech, a Troy, Michigan-based information technology and engineering workforce solutions provider, announced today that the company has been named one of “Metropolitan Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” for the fourth time by the Michigan Business and Professional Association.

“We are very proud of this year’s award, as it represents how our passion and innovative HR solutions make us a top employer of choice,” said OpTech CEO Ronia Kruse. “By showing how we truly care about our people, nurture the culture, and create a great work environment, everyone contributes and implements ideas that benefits all and attracts top talent.”

An independent research firm evaluates each company’s entry based on key measures that include Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions; Employee Enrichment, Engagement and Retention; Employee Education and Development; Recruitment, Selection and Orientation; Employee Achievement and Recognition; Communication and Shared Vision; Diversity and Inclusion; Work-Life Balance; Community Initiatives; Strategic Company Performance and the Best of the Best Small Business.

OpTech will be honored with the winning companies at a celebration on Wednesday, October 30 at the Henry Hotel located at 300 Town Center Drive in Dearborn. The winning 101 companies also compete for 12 elite awards, one granted for each category. Also, an overall winner that has excelled in all categories will be honored with a “Best of the Best Overall” award. The elite award winners will be revealed during the luncheon.

About OpTech

OpTech is an award-winning professional services firm specializing in connecting Fortune 500 and government clients to top information technology and engineering talent from coast to coast. Based in southeast Michigan with offices located in Washington, D.C., Denver and Hawii, OpTech’s innovative solutions address the critical needs of clients in the banking, manufacturing, insurance, utility, healthcare and government sectors. OpTech offers its employees outstanding career opportunities supporting innovative companies with cutting-edge technology. Visit to learn more about OpTech.

The 50-Employee Threshold: Key Staffing Decisions

For employers skirting the 50 employee threshold, a key staffing decision related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be whether to move to more part-time workers.  Even though employers of 50 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) got a 1-year reprieve from the mandate, this is the time to start understanding and preparing.

The ACA will penalize employers of 50 or more FTEs if they do not offer health care coverage, but those penalties are significantly less than what most employers typically pay to cover their employees, not including the direct and indirect administrative costs.  So why wouldn’t employers automatically boost their part-timers and reduce full-time staff?  There are two compelling reasons:

  1. Talent:  Businesses in many sectors compete aggressively for workers, and most of those workers are looking for full-time jobs.
  2. Productivity:  In many cases, it may simply not be productive to shift toward part time workers.  Depending on the sector, a full-time employee may add more overall value than two or more part-timers – higher sales, better service, higher quality, less management.

Here’s a good maxim:  Do what’s best for your customers and clients.  If you need to keep payroll below 50 FTEs, be very aware of the rules governing part-time employment, and consult with your attorney or CPA.  Here are a couple sources to help with your considerations.

Full-time employees under the ACA

IRS guidance

For more on employer opportunities and challenges within the ACA, join us at

Families to Pay $7,450 More Over the Next Ten Years? We Doubt It

Forbes blog post on September 23 asserted that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will cost the average American family of four an additional $7,450 from 2014 through 2022.  The estimate was derived by dividing Medicare actuaries’ estimated health care expenditures each year by the projected population and then multiplying by four.

The assertion created a lively online debate about math, motives, and assumptions.  Regardless of the merits of the arguments on either side, powerful counterweights to increased health care costs and spending are gathering momentum, and they go well beyond a sluggish national economy.

Already, many initiatives are underway to change the way health care is purchased and what it pays for.  Locally, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is ramping up the Physician Group Incentive Program and Organized Systems of Care, which promote evidence-based population management through Patient Centered Medical Homes.  There are many other initiatives underway throughout the nation.  Catalyst for Payment Reform is tracking them as best it can. And the federal government, the nation’s largest health care purchaser, is experimenting with several approaches. Add those initiatives to more out-of-pocket responsibility for the average consumer and new ways of doing things.

Pure Michigan Business Connect Brings Michigan Companies to Seattle Supplier Summit

Eleven Michigan based companies connected with Boeing representatives last month at a Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) led Seattle Supplier Summit. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s PMBC subsidized this out-of-state travel opportunity for the companies to pitch new products to 20 members from Boeing’s purchasing team, who represented diverse sectors across the business.

“I had three different buyers approach me with materials and projects if we could work on it for them,” remarked Jim Carlton, the owner of Defense Components of Detroit on the event.

Defense Components of Detroit, Eco-Fueling, Element Wixom, Liberty Tool, Quantum Signal, LLC, RGBSI, and the Schaller Group are just some of the companies that met with Boeing.

“I hope that what Boeing takes away is that Michigan has a lot of unique, innovative, advanced engineering and manufacturing and other types of companies that would be useful to partner with and good for their mission,” commented Mitchell Rohde, chief executive officer of Quantum Signal, LLC, on the capabilities of suppliers present.

Boeing Research & Technology develops and transitions emerging technologies into Boeing products. This facilitation provides a competitive advantage across an array of products that includes spacecraft, commercial and military aircraft, as well as logistics and maintenance.

The Detroit Regional Chamber originated and developed the Connection Point program, which joined with PMBC program in December of 2012, and is a strategic partner of PMBC programming in Southeast Michigan. For more information on PMBC, click here.


The Detroit Region’s Key Industry Drivers, 2010-2013

The Detroit region is one of a handful of regions that have outpaced the national average for job growth since 2010. During this period, the rate of job growth in the metro Detroit area has been at 7 percent, compared to the national average of 4 percent, according to Economic Modeling Specialists International.

Specifically, the manufacturing industry continues to be the primary economic driver of the Detroit region’s economy, with six different sectors listed among the top 10 economic drivers. Engineering remains the next-highest industry on the list. Detroit continues to be the number one region in terms of employment in mechanical and industrial engineering.

Detroit Warren Livonia MSA
Population: 4,226,375

2013 Jobs: 1,933,053

2010 – 2013 Change: 7%

Average Earnings per Job (2013): $61,148

Driver Industry

2013 Jobs

% Change

Since 2010

2013 Concentration

2013 Avg. Earnings

Motor vehicle parts manufacturing




$ 96,882

Architectural, engineering and related services




$ 91,599

Motor vehicle manufacturing




$ 117,648

Metalworking machinery manufacturing




$ 84,589

Scientific research and development services




$ 140,374

Machine shops; turned product; and screw, nut and bolts




$ 68,133

Motor vehicle & motor vehicle parts and supplies merchant wholesalers




$ 93,858

Plastics product manufacturing




$ 58,380

Coating, engraving, heat treating and allied activities




$ 58,940

Iron and steel mills and ferroalloy mfg.




$ 107,216