Manufacturing Day is gearing up in Macomb County!

DSC_1586Two weeks from today, 57 of Macomb County’s leading manufacturers will host tours for nearly 2,000 students from all 28 public high schools. These tours are designed to provide students with a chance to see advanced manufacturing in action and introduce them to a variety of interesting careers.

Last week, more than 150 people gathered to prepare for the big day.  See photos from the MFG Day Orientation Breakfast, sponsored by the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD) here on our Facebook page.

A highlight of the event was a new video, produced by the MISD, featuring past participants who discovered manufacturing as a career possibility:  https://youtu.be/uwgHi67eLYc

Newly revised, the website www.ManufactureMyFuture.com provides a wealth of information about events throughout the region; including information for Macomb County students (and parents); current information about hot jobs in the industry; and it also lists out all of our host sites this year.

As a follow-up to national MFG Day, the department is partnering with Macomb Community College to offer the Careers in Manufacturing & Technology Expo. The event features hands-on opportunities to interact with tools and simulators used in the industry; opportunities to hear from recent students who are now gainfully employed in the industry; learn about educational pathways that lead to career success; and meet with area companies to learn about their hiring priorities. The event also features special guests, free concessions and door prizes.

The Careers in Manufacturing & Technology Expo will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Weds. Dec. 6 at Macomb’s Sports & Expo Center.

Macomb County was one of the first in the nation to organize a countywide celebration of Manufacturing Day. Since 2014, more than 5,500 high school students from throughout Macomb County have had a chance to see manufacturing in action and meet people who make things. It has taken the dedication of many, including an active planning committee and a generous group of sponsors including Dominion Technologies Group, PTI Engineered Plastics, Fori Automation, Futuramic Tool & Engineering, L&L Products and Siemens.

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Spotlight on big investments at annual State of the County Address

2016 was a major year for business investment in Macomb County. Last night at the sixth annual State of the County, the continued and remarkable economic rebound in Macomb County was a central theme for County Executive Mark Hackel during his address.

Macomb County is in the midst of seven straight years of job growth. The number of people working in Macomb County has swelled by roughly 55,000 to more than 410,000, which is the most in 15 years and near our historic high watermark.

These job gains have been fueled by Macomb County’s standing as a world-class advanced manufacturing hub. Since 2010, the mobility industry has directly invested more than $6 billion in Macomb County. This year alone in Macomb County, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles committed $1.4 billion to the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant; General Motors located their autonomous vehicle development team at the GM Tech Center; and Ford has tripled its autonomous vehicle fleet and is currently testing its Ford Fusion hybrids in Bruce Township at the Michigan Proving Grounds. Macomb County government has done its part and stepped up, expanding our intelligent transportation infrastructure at COMTEC. These investments have made Macomb County better positioned, more than any other county in the nation in fact, to deploy connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

The same kind of transformation is happening in our other key targeted industries of defense, information technology, aerospace and agriculture.

In defense, our military installations and network of more than 600 prime defense contractors continue to push the limits of innovation. This past year, Macomb County companies were awarded more than $1.4 billion in defense contacts. TARDEC teamed up with General Motors to develop the hydrogen-powered Chevy Colorado Z-H-2. This futuristic military-concept vehicle was created right here in Macomb County and went from contract to concept in less than a year. TACOM continues to be an integral piece of our Army’s command.

Our information technology (IT) and cybersecurity sectors are undergoing massive expansions. Macomb County is now home to nearly 400 IT firms, which employ approximately 9,000 individuals. Over the past five years, the county has experienced a 116 percent increase in our IT employment which, when compared to a national average of less than 12 percent, shows our tremendous progress. Macomb is also leading the way in cybersecurity with the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range opening. We continue to look for ways to deepen our workforce talent pool and have been bringing industry experts together with MADCAT to continue to find innovative ways to prepare for future needs.

Macomb County is also making impressive gains in aerospace. The world’s largest aerospace companies are now doing business within our borders. Names like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and NASA are working with an ever growing number of prime suppliers. Contract after contract, they are flocking to Macomb County because of our advanced precision tooling and adaptable workforce.

Even agriculture and food processing are being transformed. Lipari Foods just announced a new $36 million state-of-the-art food processing facility in Warren, which will incorporate some of the most advanced food processing capabilities in the state. Century-old orchards such as Blake’s, Miller’s Big Red and Westview are also making big investments, transforming themselves in to wineries and family entertainment centers. Several craft brewers are making Macomb their home, including the $1.3 million investment at Kuhnhenn’s Brewery in Clinton Township.

Our business investments are also greatly improving our quality of life. This past year saw the opening of the much anticipated Jimmy John’s Field and the start of play for the United Shore Professional Baseball League. The ballpark’s first season was a huge success: Most of the games were sellouts, attendance averaged 3,100 over the 75 game schedule, and eight players were picked up by major league organizations. The league has announced expansion plans to add a fourth team next year.

All of these developments are telling us the same story – Macomb County is a preferred destination for transformational economic investment.

This all contributed to what was a successful 2016 for our department. I’m very proud of the dedicated staff that make up our team of professionals who were able to help these businesses grow and thrive in Macomb County this year. Our staff was responsible for the following investments within the county this year:

2016-econ-impact

I am very proud Executive Hackel recognized our department for our efforts in a significant way in front of such a large and influential audience. If you’re a business thinking about starting, locating or growing in Macomb County, we want to help you. Please contact our department, and together we can help you be the focus for next year’s event!

rea-john-paulJohn Paul Rea, AICP, is the director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Courting foreign direct investment in Germany

Over 4,000 miles away from Detroit, KUKA Germany’s CEO Dr. Till Reuter shook hands with Gov. Rick Snyder at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade fair. In this same space, KUKA Germany, KUKA Systems North America, as well as KUKA subsidiaries from around the globe, converged for this one week, meeting with business clients – past, present and future.

Germany.jpgTheir booth footprint was massive, impressive and interactive. However, their true presence was much more profound all over the showroom floors, as system integrators demonstrated how their products aligned with KUKA’s automation and robotic technologies.

KUKA Systems North America, headquartered in Macomb County, was one of the many companies that made the trip to Hannover, Germany. I joined as part of the Automation Alley trade mission, along with other Michigan-based companies, two from Macomb County: Omnico AGV and JAAN Technologies. This year was unique because the U.S. was the Partner Country for the Hannover Messe Fair, welcoming President Obama at the Opening Ceremony.

More than 465 U.S. companies exhibited at Hannover Messe, a much larger presence than in previous years. It was easy to get lost on the floors which housed 5,200 exhibitors spread out over 27 different halls. In total, the show brought in over 190,000 visitors from all over the world. Many languages were spoken, and the meetings I had were rich in investment and growth opportunities.

My mission was to meet with companies seeking a U.S. location for expanding their market and production capability. Michigan, especially Macomb County, is prime for these types of foreign direct investments, especially with our rich roots and strong workforce in advanced manufacturing for the automotive, aerospace and defense industries. In total, I walked 56,000 steps over the four days I attended the Hannover Messe Fair – each step bringing these opportunities closer to home.

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Vicky Rad is the deputy director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Macomb-OU INCubator’s Capital Raise Meetups: Let Mac-OU INC show you the money!

The Macomb-Oakland University INCubator (Mac-OU INC) recognizes that one of the largest needs of entrepreneurs is capital, so we created Capital Raise Meetup seminars to steer these small-business owners in the right direction. After three consecutive years, Mac-OU INC’s Capital Raise Meetups are still in high demand.

Mike Brennan, Mac-OU INC’s capital strategist, covers the various capital sources in Michigan and discusses how to properly position a company to be qualified for private funding, including private equity, the angel network and venture capital, and/or public funding, including grants, pre-seed, micro-loans and venture match.

Brennan is an accomplished executive and entrepreneur with 26 years of experience in both growth and startup organizations. He has founded five companies, raised $12 million privately for one and cumulatively employed more than 200 people in Michigan.

An example of these funding sources includes the Business Accelerator Fund (BAF), which is available solely through the state of Michigan’s SmartZones. Mac-OU INC is the top SmartZone, out of 18 total, for garnering the most BAF dollars to assist client companies.

In total, $579,004 in BAF dollars has been awarded to client companies through Mac-OU INC. These BAF awards are distributed by the Michigan Small Business Development Center through Mac-OU INC to the various accelerator service providers.

Free Capital Raise Meetup sessions are set from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays, March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7, Sept. 6, Oct. 4 and Nov. 1. After his group presentations, Brennan is available to further assist participating companies in determining individual needs.

Mac-OU INC supports economic development in Southeast Michigan by accelerating high-tech businesses, cultivating academic innovation and encouraging research and development. To help small businesses grow, the incubator creates customized success strategies for startup and emerging companies in the niche industries of defense, homeland security, advanced manufacturing and technology.

The incubator is located in the Velocity building at 6633 Eighteen Mile Road in Sterling Heights. Those interested in attending the lectures are asked to register in advance by contacting me, Joan Carleton, at (586) 884-9324 or macINC@oakland.edu. For more information, visit the incubator website at oakland.edu/macombouinc.

Joan Carleton is the marketing and communications manager for the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator.

 

State of the County highlights investment in Macomb

At the fifth annual State of the County, the economic rebound in Macomb County was a major theme for County Executive Mark Hackel during his address.

We have a lot to be proud of recently. Frequently used during the speech was the “b word”: billion. Three major global players have all recently announced plans to invest more than a billion dollars each in separate projects in Macomb County. General Motors is investing $1 billion in its Warren Tech Center that will include new design studios, upgraded R&D efforts and improve the infrastructure in their 600-acre campus, adding 2,600 new jobs. Ford is planning to invest a billion dollars into its two Sterling Heights facilities. Fiat Chrysler is also investing $1 billion into its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

It’s not just automotive. In 2014, defense contractors in Macomb County won more than $1.6 billion in contracts from the federal government.

These are some other great projects that the county executive mentioned:

  • The Paslin Company creating 200 full-time jobs with their investment in a new $20 million manufacturing and engineering center
  • Fori Automation investing in a new $12 million manufacturing and business operations facility in Shelby Township
  • Faurecia investing $8 million to upgrade its Sterling Heights plant
  • Axalta Coating Systems modernizing their Mount Clemens plant, which now employs more than 700 workers and is viewed as a global leader in liquid and powder coating
  • KUKA Systems North America investing $14 million in their Clinton Township facility
  • Triumph Gear Systems spending $15 million to double their facility size
  • $200 million for research overseen by TARDEC in Warren
  • BAE Systems receiving a $100 million contract to provide engineering and program management for a new Marine combat vehicle

Aerospace is also expanding its footprint in Macomb County. Companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and NASA are actively engaged with Macomb County suppliers.

Many of our department’s initiatives were also highlighted in the county executive’s speech.

Professional baseball is coming to Macomb County. The first pitch will be thrown out in June at Jimmy John’s Field when the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, the Eastside Diamond Hoppers and the Utica Unicorns launch the new United Shore Professional Baseball League at a brand new 4,000-seat stadium in Utica. Jimmy John’s Field will be much more than a place to play ball; it will host a wide variety of community and regional events.

Another point raised by the county executive was the performance of our defense industry. Macomb County is actively involved in virtually every major defense initiative in the state. Our department was instrumental in securing a $6 million grant from the Department of Defense to support the Advance Michigan Defense Collaborative. This initiative will be co-chaired by our Planning and Economic Development Department and the Michigan Defense Center, and Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works! will be the fiscal agent responsible for this grant. This collaborative effort spans 13 counties in southeast Michigan.

Another of our major initiatives highlighted during the address was the Blue Economy. The goal of the Blue Economy is to enhance both water quality and water access, which in turn will produce financial benefits as well as enhance the quality of life of residents. The county executive made point of new canoe and kayak liveries on the Clinton River and our ability to attract world-class fishing tournaments on Lake St. Clair. More people than ever before are accessing our waterways. This year’s Bassmaster event held on Lake St. Clair was televised worldwide on ESPN and gave unprecedented exposure to our Blue Economy, while adding $3 million to our local economy.

It’s not just big investments. Our department is working hard to improve the workforce. Referred to in his speech as “our most creative accomplishment” was our department’s efforts in helping to fill the skills gap with Manufacturing Day. This innovative program addresses some common misconceptions about manufacturing. Macomb County had one of the largest coordinated events in the nation – with the support of local school districts, we connected nearly 1,800 students to over 40 local manufacturing businesses.

I speak for our entire department when I say that we are very proud – and humbled – to be recognized for our efforts in front of such a large and influential audience.

Cassin, SteveStephen N. Cassin, AICP is the director of Planning & Economic Development for Macomb County. Cassin has over 40 years of experience in land use planning, community development and economic development. He is a past president of the Michigan Society of Planners. He also is an adjunct instructor at Oakland University.