Detroit Regional Chamber > Business Resources > COVID-19 > Lt. Gov.: MERC ‘Getting Pretty Close’ on Understanding Measures to Reopen Auto Industry

Lt. Gov.: MERC ‘Getting Pretty Close’ on Understanding Measures to Reopen Auto Industry

May 5, 2020

When might there be clarity on reopening Michigan’s automotive industry? It could be a matter of days.

The state’s Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC) is working with partners throughout the automotive supply chain and is honing in on what re-opening the industry may look like, according to Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.

“This decision again is driven by people and by the facts on the ground. The facts of how coronavirus cases are trending as well as the capacities for our companies and public health infrastructure to support should we see a second spike after activity resumes,” said Lt. Gov. Gilchrist in his second Tele-Town Hall with the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“No one wants to get there faster than us, we just want to do so prudently. I think you’ll be hearing from us about this, hopefully in the coming days,” he added.

The MERC has been looking at different job functions and characteristics and trying to give them risk profiles to provide the state a deeper understanding of what measures can be put into place to reopen the automotive sector safely.

Those profiles come with the recognition that some job functions have a higher risk than others because employees might need to be in closed spaces and proximity to others or might need to share equipment.

“We want to make sure that the people who are running suppliers and working in the supply chain will feel safe at work and have what they need. That includes personal protective equipment and that includes protocols being in place for people to do their jobs safely,” said Lt. Gov. Gilchrist.

During the interview, Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah raised concerns about automotive suppliers not having the same resources as larger original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to make needed changes and asked if the Whitmer administration was taking that consideration into account.

“This impacts different businesses differently, depending on your sector, depending on your size, depending on your type of operation,” Lt. Gov. Gilchrist said. “We are trying to be thoughtful so that we are designing policies that meet the needs of different businesses. We certainly recognize that businesses in the supply chains will have different needs than the OEMs.”

MICHauto raised the concern recently, sending a letter to the governor. The Chamber is among the business groups advising the MERC throughout the COVID-19 crisis.