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Detroit Regional Chamber launches initiative to attract automotive business to Michigan

by Michael Wayland originally for

In an effort to keep Michigan the “epicenter for the global automotive industry,” the Detroit Regional Chamber has formed MichAuto.

Chamber CEO and President Sandy Baruah said the new group will work closely with other economic development agencies — and industry leaders themselves — to help Michigan’s auto industry compete with other regions around the country and around the world that are building automotive hubs.

“While it is exceptionally clear to all of us that we need to diversify our economy in the great state of Michigan, let’s not do that at the expense of our state’s number one innovator, the automotive industry,” he said at an event Thursday night formally launching the new group.

By collaborating with economic development organizations, MichAuto hopes to use the automotive industry as a platform to drive economic diversification and compete with other states that have attracted automotive business.

Officials said nearly every new auto plant built in the U.S. in the past 10 years has been built in the southern United States.

“If Michigan is going to continue its role as the undisputed epicenter for the global automotive industry, we’re going to have to make some noise,” Baruah said. “We’re going to have to fight for it and we’re going to have to be vocal advocates.”

A MichAuto Advisory Board will serve as strategic advisers with oversight of the association’s direction and activities. Members include Rodney O’Neal, CEO of Delphi Automotive plc; Chip McClure, CEO of Meritor Inc.; Allan Gilmour, president of Wayne State University; Stephen Polk, chairman, president and CEO of R.L. Polk & Co.; and Tom Manganello, partner at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.

Manganello said Michigan has somewhat taken the automotive industry for granted, and to have MichAuto, a “one-stop shop” for automotive investments, will help the entire state.

“Having a one-stop shop opportunity to just plug-in to the automotive network for Michigan is really important,” he said. “There’s a lot of other states out there that are really just trying to eat our lunch.”

The chamber is currently seeking MichAuto members that do business in Michigan or would like to do business in the state.

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