In 2009, the American automotive industry experienced the worst year for U.S. sales in nearly 30 years. There were the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors, along with scores of automotive suppliers. The firms that survived closed plants, shed workers, and restructured their operations. While the industry’s challenges were global, pain was felt most acutely in Michigan. As the U.S. automotive capital, Michigan suffered sharp reductions in employment, personal income, and economic output. In fact, half of the two million U.S. jobs lost during the past decade were in Michigan.1 The 13-county region in southeast Michigan that is the manufacturing center of state’s automotive industry was particularly hard hit.2 The region’s transportation equipment sector alone lost over 140,000 jobs (25% of the nation’s total employment loss, and 77% of the state’s total). Investments dried up, capital evaporated, and many Michiganders were out of work.

As this region recovers, its leaders have come together seeking the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) designation. The 13-county contiguous region consisting of Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Shiawassee, Washtenaw, and Wayne and the cities of Detroit, Pontiac, Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Flint have formed the Advance Michigan initiative to help rebuild and sustain their shared manufacturing future.

The 13 Advance Michigan counties share industrial supply chains, infrastructure and trade routes as part of a natural economic and labor market.3 Thanks to a skilled workforce, unparalleled research, development, and advanced production capability, the region is capable of meeting global demand for automobiles, parts and components, as well as other advanced manufacturing products. Over 5.6 million people (more than half of Michigan’s population) live and work in this region and over $36 billion (more than 53%) of the state’s manufacturing output is produced here.

The IMCP opportunity comes at a critical point in Advance Michigan’s future. The designation will help catalyze and shift the regional economy quickly, providing crucial investment and technical support to ensure a ready workforce, accelerate research and development, and maximize market positioning for manufacturers and emerging technologies. Advance Michigan will achieve these goals by focusing on two primary key technologies and supply chain (KTS) areas tied to automotive efficiency and safety. Leveraging an extensive ecosystem associated with these KTS will diversify and further strengthen the region’s economy through application in other fields of manufacturing including aerospace/defense, energy, medical devices, and more. More specifically, the KTS will:

Lead Material and Emissions Improvements by Redefining Automotive Efficiency—Advance Michigan is positioned to be the heart of the country’s manufacturing materials improvements. New vehicle system integration and manufacturing techniques focused on lightweight and other advanced materials (metals, composites, additive manufacturing, joining/welding, castings, stamping/forming, digital design and rapid prototyping, modeling-simulation-visualization, testing, diagnostics, and repair) already are underway in regional facilities. In addition, KTS-related investments will support new engine and transmission technology innovations, critical in meeting the 2016-2025 EPA and NHTSA fuel economy and CO2-emission standards.