The state of Michigan and the Detroit region are premier destinations for the defense and homeland security industry.

The Detroit region offers a rich defense heritage and highly skilled talent along with cutting-edge technology that positions the region’s businesses with a competitive advantage that is second to none. The Detroit region has more than 100 years of experience with innovation, design, and manufacturing.

As the birthplace of the automotive industry, this is the region that put the world on wheels and completely revolutionized the way people move. During World War II, it was Detroit that accepted President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call to become the “Arsenal of Democracy,” providing the weapons and vehicles necessary for victory.

Today, as the automotive industry’s global leader, both in terms of production and research and development, it is this region that is once again driving the rapid evolution of the vehicle and its increasingly automated future. Detroit is one of few locations with demonstrated expertise in taking new ideas from concept to consumer and the ability to move automotive technology into the world of aerospace and defense.

A Defined Defense Presence

Michigan’s defense industry contributed $31 billion in overall economic activity through 155,000 defense-related jobs and 17 commands and installations throughout the state. The defense and homeland security industry already recognizes Michigan as a prime location to do business. In 2020, the Detroit region was home to 3,338 businesses serving the defense and aerospace industry. Together, they employ more than 91,900 with annual average wages of $89,142. Michigan is ranked 8th for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness.

  • Michigan businesses were awarded 54,547 defense contracts, worth over $5.31 billion in 2020, and play a vital role in meeting our nation’s defense needs. The Detroit region had almost 80% of those contracts, totaling more than $4.19 billion.
  • Macomb County continues to be a hub for the defense industry with more than $3.2 billion contracts award in 2020 and over $50.26 billion worth of Department of Defense contracts awarded to resident companies from 2000 to 2020.
  • Michigan entrepreneurs file more than 4,000 patents annually, ranking the state consistently in the top 10 for patents granted. In 2019, 8,828 patents were granted to Michigan entrepreneurs ranking the state 2nd for patents granted.

Defense Contracts in the Detroit Region, By County, 2022

CountyContracts (in millions)
Macomb County$4,330.0
Wayne County County$190.7
Oakland County$216.2
Washtenaw County$160.4
Livingston County$60.4
St. Clair County$6.3
Genesee County $4.6
Monroe County$1.5
Lapeer County$0.9
Lenawee County$0.3
Shiawassee County$0.2

The Detroit region’s institutions of higher education partner with the private and public sectors to drive research and development, making the region a center of innovation.

Military Research

The Department of Defense and other federal agencies sponsor millions of dollars in defense and homeland security-related research in the state, establishing Michigan as a national leader in patents and research and development.

Research Centers and Programs

Michigan is home to innovative research in advanced engineering, life sciences and small tech, which are becoming increasingly important to defense and homeland security. View a list of top institutions and programs below.

The Detroit Region’s Defense Cluster

The Detroit region is a central site for military research and development facilities and purchasing centers, providing a strategic advantage for any business or organization looking to be a player in the defense and homeland security industry. The entire country looks to Michigan for its engineering, manufacturing, and research and development talent and expertise to solve the defense industry’s toughest challenges.

Notable defense bases and centers in the Detroit region are listed below:

U.S. Army Garrison Detroit Arsenal

Tacon lcmcLocated in Warren, Michigan, the Detroit Arsenal is the only active-duty military installation in Michigan, hosting several defense organizations including the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle System Center, Defense Logistics Agency, Army Contracting Command-Warren, Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems, and Program Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support. The center has 67 buildings on 178 acres, with 200 million square feet of building space. The center serves 250 military and 7,500 Department of Defense civilian and contract workers. Learn more about the arsenal here.

Selfridge Air National Guard Base

Selfridge Air National Guard BaseLocated in Macomb County, Selfridge is one of only two installations in the country hosting all four Department of Defense services plus the Department of Homeland Security. Learn more about the base here.

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)

PTACMichigan’s PTACs aim to enhance national defense and economic development by assisting Michigan businesses in obtaining federal, state, and local government contracts. Learn more about Michigan’s PTACs.

Michigan Defense Center

Michigan Defense CenterThe Michigan Defense Center works in concert with the 12 state PTACs to help Michigan companies secure federal contracts. It is focused on increasing the number of prime contracts awarded by the Department of Defense to Michigan companies and identifying opportunities to compete as supply chain clusters. Learn more by visiting the Michigan Defense Center.


Learn more about defense in the region.

Our team can provide additional information regarding facilities, educational programs, and more.

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