Opinion: Funding Going PRO vital to auto industry present and future

February 24, 2020

Crain’s Detroit Business

By: Glenn Stevens

Ask anyone in business and they will tell you the same thing — our state needs workers with the skills to fill the thousands of job openings at companies of all sizes, in all industries. Bridging this talent gap is vital to Michigan’s economic future, given the projected workforce gap of more than 500,000 by 2026.

Ask any elected official and they will respond similarly, regardless of party. The question now is, how do we fill this need for the state’s signature automotive industry? The answer is by training potential employees with new technologies while advancing the skills required to fill open positions.

Start by continuing what works. The Going PRO in Michigan program is making strides to close the talent gap through training in classrooms and on the job, or via apprenticeship programs. Last year, funding through the program allowed 849 employers to train 5,909 new hires and 18,900 current employees. And 97 percent of the companies awarded had fewer than 500 employees and 70 percent had fewer than 100. We often read about the large companies that are vital to the automotive industry, but thousands of smaller firms make up the backbone of our economy.

While the Going PRO Talent Fund has helped further train thousands of workers so far, with each passing quarter, even more are losing out on the opportunity to adapt to industry advancements. And jobs that need to be filled are staying open while appropriations are being held up.

When you consider Going PRO’s success, number of applicants and return on investment, it clearly warrants a $50 million state appropriation to continue benefiting Michigan companies and workers. And with more than 1,200 applications for 2020 from employers, 43,000 workers stand to benefit from increased training and potential salary gains.

This is essential for where the automotive industry is headed. The “Detroit 3” continue to make major investments to protect Michigan’s automotive future. The FCA Mack Avenue Plant, General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck EV Plant and Ford Motor Co.’s commitment to the Michigan Central Station corridor are testaments to that. Suppliers are keeping pace as well. Paslin is expanding to support Rivian in a project expected to generate $45 million in private investment and create 200 new jobs. Going PRO supports these companies and their peers around our state.

Equally, we need Michigan to invest in the workforce to ensure thousands of employees have an opportunity to receive training to keep up with the changing industry landscape.
While the average hourly wage of a trainee is $16.95, the six-month post-training wage averages $26.60. This significant increase allows Michiganders to earn family-sustaining wages and employers to invest in their current workforce to meet talent demands.

State Sen. Ken Horn introduced a bill last month that would allocate $36.5 million to the Going PRO Talent Fund, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer added it back into her budget as a line item with $27.9 million in funding. There are options on the table, and we need our state policymakers to set aside partisan politics to fund the program and allow companies to get to work on retraining their workforce.

Economic growth is ultimately driven by a skilled, motivated and supported workforce. Let’s continue to invest in our people.

Glenn Stevens Jr. is the executive director of MICHauto and the vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

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Economic Developers Find Collaborative Solutions for Regional Investment at MEDA Conference

This past August, 160 economic developers from across the state came together to discuss key issues impacting business development at the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) annual conference in Detroit. The conference was chaired by Maureen Krauss, senior advisor of economic development for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Discussions revolved around aging infrastructure, repurposing real estate, the auto industry, and community development.

It’s at the conference where relationships among economic developers are often built and cultivated.

“When you can get a wide range of people with diverse projects and communities in one room sharing what works and what doesn’t work for potential investors looking to expand in Michigan, that knowledge is invaluable. Everyone wins,” Krauss said.

The Conference also offered the opportunity to showcase Detroit and the auto industry’s comeback, with tours of the city and keynote speeches by Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Economic Growth Corp. President Rodrick Miller.

“Whether you are from Troy or Marquette or Holland, inevitably you are asked about what’s happening in Detroit from investors and site selectors,” Krauss said.

As a regional convener, the conference is only one part of the Chamber’s collaborative work with developers, private and public partners, and government leaders. With the competition for talent, jobs and investment showing no signs of slowing, Krauss said the Chamber is often called upon to be the “go to” source for everything from labor statistics and graduation rates to available office and retail space. A large component of that collaboration also takes place at the local, state and federal level when key legislation impacts business development.

An example of this, Krauss said, was a recent advocacy effort between the Chamber, Grand Rapids-based The Right Place and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) that eventually led to the passage of a series of bills in the state Legislature that exempt data centers from sales and use taxes. The legislation helped pave the way for more high-tech job creation. Most notably, it was a key catalyst for Switch, a Las Vegas-based company, that announced plans to expand its operations in Michigan, adding $5 billion in investment and 1,000 new jobs.

“You are always impactful when you act with one voice,” Krauss said, adding that the Chamber is currently working with partners to address proposed changes governing state tax increment financing (TIF) regulations and brownfields across the state.

Another positive example is the collaboration with the MEDC and Gov. Rick Snyder on investment missions overseas. Krauss said the Chamber often serves as a lead partner due to the depth of knowledge and diversity of opportunity in Southeast Michigan. Last year alone, the Chamber and its partners helped attract over $80 million and over 500 jobs to the region. Notable projects included YFS Automotive Systems investment of $26.9 million in Wayne County.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page. For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at 313.596.0352.

Brinks Gilson & Lione’s Oberholtzer interviewed by Comcast Newsmakers; advises caution on collaborative projects between the auto and tech industries

Brinks Gilson & Lione’s Oberholtzer interviewed by Comcast Newsmakers; advises caution on collaborative projects between the auto and tech industries

Steven L. Oberholtzer managing shareholder of the Ann Arbor office of Chicago-based Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., was a guest on Michigan’s Comcast Newsmakers, a news platform presenting public affairs information via interviews with local, state and federal officials and business and community leaders.

The topic of the interview, which can be viewed here, was a discussion on the unique challenges faced by traditional automakers and their supplier partners amid high profile collaborations between the auto and tech industries. Oberholtzer advises the auto industry to protect its core competencies while using shared technologies vital to the ongoing development of autonomous vehicles, hybrids and other technology-driven initiatives which reflect a fundamental shift in the auto industry. The interview followed a blog post Oberholtzer contributed to Automotive News in June 2016 on the same topic.

Oberholtzer’s practice at Brinks focuses on patent and trademark counseling, corporate intellectual property policy development and administration, technology licensing, joint development and joint venture relationship agreements. He has extensive experience with the intellectual property legal issues of the automotive industry and a lifelong interest in the industry and its products. Oberholtzer was previously employed as a senior project engineer with a domestic OEM manufacturer and as in-house patent counsel for a Tier 1 supplier. In private practice, he has acted as primary outside counsel for a number of Tier 1 and lower tier supplier engagements that include worldwide responsibility for all intellectual property issues and management of teams of attorneys handling all facets of these matters.
Oberholtzer is the principal author of a primer on intellectual property entitled, The Basic Principles of Intellectual Property Law. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Kettering University, formerly known as the General Motors Institute, and received his J.D. from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University.

Comcast Newsmakers is presented online at www.comcastnewsmakers.com and across Comcast’s national Xfinity on-demand service.

Brinks Gilson & Lione
The attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents at Brinks Gilson & Lione focus their practice in the field of intellectual property, making Brinks one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S. Clients around the world rely on Brinks to help them protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. Brinks attorneys provide counseling in all aspects of patent, trademark, unfair competition, trade secret and copyright law. More information is available at www.brinksgilson.com.

Brooks Kushman Shareholder to Discuss Securing 360-degree Protection at IP in the Auto Industry Conference

Brooks Kushman Shareholder Frank Angileri will serve on a panel at the IP in the Auto Industry conference on May 3, 2016.. The conference provides IP legal professionals working in the auto industry with greater insight into the strategies and operational efficiencies to maintain a competitive edge.

Angileri will discuss strategies for a 360-degree approach to securing intellectual property protection including building an effective portfolio, finding the appropriate balance between trade secrets versus patent protection, and maximizing design protection in the 3D world.

Angileri is co-chair of Brooks Kushman’s Post-Grant Proceedings practice, and focuses on IP litigation. He has successfully tried patent, trademark, trade secret and copyright cases in Federal Courts nationwide, the Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Federal Circuits, and the International Trade Commission. Angileri was also named Michigan’s IP “Litigator of the Year” by Managing IP. His litigation experience spans across various technologies and industries including, automotive, consumer electronics, industrial technologies, food and beverage, and home appliances.

The IP in the Auto Industry program addresses challenges and opportunities in the converging landscape of today’s automotive marketplace. The event will be held at Ford Motor Company Conference and Event Center in Dearborn, MI. For additional information, visit http://www.wtr-events.com/IPintheautoindustry/2016.

About Brooks Kushman P.C.
Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices in Michigan and California, and represents clients nationally and internationally with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm has more than 90 intellectual property professionals specializing in various technical disciplines, and has a reputation for providing leading IP counseling with a focus on the business objectives of their clients.

Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is also recognized by leading legal publications and rankings, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Law360, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing Intellectual Property, World Trademark Review, and Intellectual Property Today.

For more information, please visit www.BrooksKushman.com.

Enhancing the Talent Pipeline: Near-term and Long-term solutions to fill your talent needs

MICHauto hosted “Enhancing the Talent Pipeline:  Near-term and Long-Term solutions to fill your talent needs” on Monday, July 9, 2012 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago – Detroit Branch.

Since its launch in January, MICHauto has been hard at work building a coalition of industry executives, developing Michigan-centric promotional materials, engaging in business attraction activities, and connecting stakeholders to address the industry’s engineering talent shortage.  The Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto program hosted an event focused on increasing the number of engineers in the talent pipeline and introducing new programs that assist private industry in solving their immediate engineering needs.  Attendees were educated on four topics: private industry involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education reform; corporate immigration assistance and foreign-born recruitment; the utilization of academia’s research and development capabilities; and a unique engineering internship program.

Find presentations from the event below (Click the presentation name to view in PDF Format):

Athena Trentin, Program Director, Global Talent Retention Initiative of Southeast Michigan

Dennis Atkinson, Director of Corporate Engagement/Michigan Corporate Relations Network, Wayne State University

Rebecca Wenglinski, Program Manager, Talent Enhancement, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Dr. Joachim Wolschendorf, CTO and Vice President of the Vehicle and Drivetrain Engineering Division, FEV, Inc.

For more information on MICHauto, contact Rob Luce at 313.596.0383.    This event was presented in strategic partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) with presenting sponsorship from Warner, Norcross, and Judd, LLP.