The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously wrote “All is Flux”—meaning that continuous change is a universal constant. He could well have been writing about the automotive industry, particularly the movement toward electric vehicles (EVs) and other emerging forms of mobility.
The Detroit Regional Chamber responded to this trend in 2010 when it took leadership of MICHauto, the state’s only automotive “cluster association,” which promotes, grows, and retains the industry through education, mentorship, and advocacy.
Since then, the program has emerged as a prominent voice for the entire industry and has grown to over 70 investors, which includes some of the biggest automotive and business brands in the world.
SECURING NEXT-GENERATION TALENT
Discover Auto is MICHauto’s “hands on” outreach to high school and middle school students interested in the industry.
“We connect and bring the students into R & D and technical centers, headquarters, and the manufacturing facilities to show them the exciting careers available,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives at the Chamber.
The experience is immersive. Students are given an overview of what the host company does, and are then introduced to a cross section of employees: top executives, young professionals, and line workers. The goal is to give an honest, unvarnished look at what working in the industry is like.
To measure effectiveness, students are given surveys before and after the one-day program to gauge their interest in an auto career and how much the presentation “moves the needle,” according to Stevens.
THE EMERGING AUTOMOTIVE VOICE IN LANSING
Education and advocacy involving policy makers in Lansing is another MICHauto priority and investor benefit.
“MICHauto is unique in that we’re the only association that is both automotive and Michigan focused,” said Stevens. “We work with the governor and the state legislature to be a voice for the industry.”
Because of the rapid turnover in the state House of Representatives and Senate due to term limits, MICHauto continually offers educational programs to legislators to emphasize the size and economic impact the industry has on the entire state.
“A few times a year we take representatives from various auto related companies to Lansing to offer presentations to lawmakers,” he added.
MICHauto’s advocacy work usually concentrates on specific pieces of legislation and involves highly detailed work with legislators, including the Auto Caucus of the Michigan Legislature – a bipartisan group of House and Senate members that MICHauto helped create.
Current MICHauto priorities include encouraging regulatory and tax policies that promote investment in automated and electric vehicles, recruiting the immigration of highly skilled foreign workers to Michigan, and fostering diversity, equity and inclusion.