Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Current U.S. Immigration Issues

Rami Fakhoury and Matthew C. Morse
Fakhoury Global Immigration

What are the current restrictions that are affecting entry into the United States for foreign nationals?

There have been a series of Presidential Proclamations this year that have significantly restricted entry of foreign nationals into the United States. These proclamations have restricted the ability of foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania from entering the U.S. In addition, foreign nationals who have been physically present in Schengen countries of Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil are restricted from entering the U.S., unless an exemption or exception applies. There is a proclamation restricting certain foreign nationals from the People’s Republic of China from entering the U.S. There is also a proclamation restricting the ability of foreign nationals from entering the U.S. as an H-1B, H-2B, J-1, or L-1 nonimmigrant or preventing foreign nationals from applying for one of these visa types, if certain conditions are met.  As of the date of this writing, the closure of the U.S. northern and southern land borders to all but essential travel remains in effect.

With the US denying entry to visa holders, how are they managing visa expirations that have to be done in the home country?

The U.S. is currently denying entry to foreign nationals who fall under one of the restrictions listed above. Travelers who are not in one of the affected categories may still be able to enter the U.S. as long as they have a valid visa or travel document.

The U.S. Department of State announced a phased-in-resumption of visa services on a post-by-post basis. Visa services remain limited to student visas and emergency visas. Foreign nationals interested in applying for other types of visas should review the website of, or send an email to, the embassy or consulate they wish to apply through for a visa.

As indicated above, certain foreign nationals are not eligible to be issued an H-1B, L-1, or H-1B1, or J-1 visa unless exempt or an exception applies to their case.  If not exempt from the restriction, the U.S. embassy or consulate would need to determine if an emergency visa appointment is appropriate to request a National Interest Exception (NIE) is granted. NIEs are explained in the response to the next question.

Foreign nationals inside the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status should not depart the U.S. at this time. If a foreign national’s nonimmigrant status is expiring while in the U.S., an application or petition should be filed with USCIS to extend their nonimmigrant status. With respect to foreign nationals pursuing extensions of status inside the U.S. for a particular nonimmigrant category that authorizes employment, the foreign national may work for up to 240 days while the extension of stay petition is pending with the USCIS.

What is a National Interest Exception and how does one qualify for it?

If a foreign national is restricted from entering the U.S., or being issued an H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 visa, because of a presidential proclamation, the foreign national may still be eligible to obtain a visa or gain entry into the U.S. by applying for and being granted a National Interest Exception (NIE).  An NIE may be granted in the following instances:

  • The work or activity is related to healthcare or research designed to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (H-1B, L-1A, L-1B ONLY);
  • The work or activity is related to a request by a U.S. government agency or entity to meet critical U.S. foreign policy objectives or satisfy treaty or contractual obligations (H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B ONLY) ;
  • The work or activity is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery in the U.S. if two of the three criteria are met: i) the foreign national was previously employed or trained by the petitioning U.S. employer; ii) the foreign national is traveling to the U.S. based on a temporary labor certification (TLC); iii) the denial of the visa will cause significant financial hardship to the employer (H-2B ONLY)
  • The work or activity entails resuming ongoing employment in the U.S. in the same position with the same employer in the same visa classification, and forcing employers to replace such workers would cause undue hardship (H-1B, L-1A, L-1B ONLY) ;
  • The work or activity is technical or managerial in nature and will help facilitate the economic recovery of the U.S. if two of the five following criteria are met: i) the petitioner shows a continued need for the services or labor and/or the case contains Labor Condition Application (LCA) approved on or after July 2020; ii) the work or activity is significant and contributes to an employer meeting critical infrastructure needs; iii)  the foreign national’s education, training or experience demonstrates unusual expertise; iv) the wage rate paid to the H-1B worker exceeds the prevailing wage rate by at least 15%; or v) the denial of the visa will cause significant financial hardship to the employer (H-1B ONLY);
  • The work or activity involves caring for a minor U.S. citizen, Green Card holder, or nonimmigrant in lawful status by an au pair possessing special skills required for a child with particular needs (J-1 ONLY);
  • The work activity prevents a U.S. citizen, Green Card holder, or other nonimmigrant in lawful status from becoming a public charge in the U.S. (J-1 ONLY);
  • The work or activity involves providing childcare services for a child whose parents are involved with providing medical care to others to combat COVID-19 and/or engaged in COVID-19 research (J-1 ONLY);
  • The work or activity involves an exchange program conducted pursuant to an MOU, Statement of Intent, or other valid agreement or arrangement between a foreign government and any federal, state, or local government entity in the U.S. that is designed to promote U.S. national interests, if agreement with the foreign government was in effect prior to June 24, 2020 (J-1 ONLY);
  • The work or activity involves interns or trainees on U.S. government agency-sponsored programs, or specialized teachers in accredited educational institutions with a program number beginning with G-5 on Form DS 2019, or involves critical foreign policy objectives (J-1 ONLY);
  • The foreign national is a senior-level executive or manager filing a critical business need or critical infrastructure need of the employer if two of the following three criteria are present and the foreign national is not seeking to establish a new office: i) the foreign national will be a senior-level executive or manager; ii) the foreign national has spent multiple years with the company overseas, and has substantial knowledge and expertise within the organization that can only be replicated by a new employee within the company following extensive training that would cause financial hardship to the employer; or iii) the foreign national will fill a critical infrastructure need of the employer (L-1A ONLY);
  • The work or activity involves a technical expert or specialist meeting a critical infrastructure need, if the following three criteria are met: i) the foreign national’s proposed job duties and specialized knowledge indicate the individual will provide significant and unique contributions to the petitioning company; ii) the foreign national’s specialized knowledge is specifically related to a critical infrastructure need, and iii) the foreign national spent multiple years with the company overseas, indicating a substantial knowledge and expertise within the organization that can only be replicated by a new employee within the company following extensive training that would cause the employer financial hardship (L-1B ONLY).


What is the process for applying for an NIE?

The foreign national would submit electronically the Form DS 160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) to the U.S. Department of State and select a date for a visa appointment.  The foreign national will then be given an opportunity to request an emergency visa appointment and would need to indicate the basis for the emergency visa. The embassy or consulate may grant the request for an earlier or emergency visa appointment. At the visa appointment, the foreign national would present his or her request for an NIE to the consular official. The foreign national will need to bring a signed statement confirming the work or activity to be engaged is in the U.S. national interest. Documentation supporting the NIE request should also be brought to the visa appointment. Consular officials have been given broad discretion to grant NIE requests as part of the visa application process.

What are the long-term projections on these proclamations from the President?

If President Trump should win re-election, we anticipate that the proclamations restricting entry into the U.S. will be extended beyond their current December 31, 2020 expiration dates.

If former Vice President Joe Biden should win, the immigration policies would be less restrictive and more favorable to immigrants. The Biden campaign has released a proposed immigration platform that would rescind President Trump’s numerous proclamations restricting entry into the U.S. immediately.

Is there any legislation that lawmakers have proposed to counter or undo the proclamations issued by President Trump?

Two bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives. The first called the “No Ban Act,” would undo the Trump Administration’s previous travel bans and require that future bans be tailored to “specific and credible facts.” The second bill, called the “Access to Counsel Act,” would require that most people stopped at a port of entry be allowed to consult with a lawyer or family member.[1] Given that Congress is divided, it is unlikely that these bills will be enacted into law.

In addition, two major lawsuits challenging the legality of several of the proclamations were filed in July 2020. The first by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and two other plaintiffs, the second by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and three other plaintiffs. The cases are making their way through the courts, and it is uncertain whether either will be decided before the presidential election.[2]

If a foreign national was outside the U.S. at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and has a valid approved H-1B or L-1 petition, but not a valid visa, will the foreign national need to wait for the Presidential Proclamation to be lifted in order to be able to apply for and be issued an H-1B or L-1 visa?

The foreign national would need to wait until the Presidential Proclamation of June 22, 2020, which restricts applicants of certain nonimmigrant visas from entering the U.S., is lifted or expires in order to be eligible to apply for an H-1B or L-1 visa, unless one of the exemptions described in the Proclamation applies, or the foreign national qualifies for a National Interest Exception (NIE).

If a foreign national is the beneficiary of an approved H-1B cap petition for the 2021 Fiscal Year (FY) (October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021) with an October 1, 2020 start date, and is currently outside of the U.S., will the foreign national be able to apply for an H-1B visa and use it to enter the U.S. in order to begin work on October 1, 2020 or soon thereafter?

A foreign national who is the beneficiary of an approved FY2021 H-1B cap petition, who is currently outside of the U.S. will have to wait until the June 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation is lifted or expires before being eligible to apply for an H-1B visa, unless one of the exceptions listed in the proclamation applies or the foreign national qualifies for a National Interest Exception (NIE).

Does the June 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation prevent a foreign national in valid nonimmigrant status in the U.S. from filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485)?

A foreign national in valid nonimmigrant status may file a Form I-485 application in the U.S. in order to try to adjust their status to that of a U.S. lawful permanent resident. In addition, the foreign national inside the U.S. may also file an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) or an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131). Furthermore, a U.S. employer may still file an ETA Form 9089 (Application for Permanent Employment Certification) on behalf of a foreign national, as well as an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) on behalf of the foreign national.

Does the June 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation prevent foreign nationals, who are inside the U.S. in valid H-1B, or L-1 status, from having an amended petition or change of employer petition filed on their behalf?

No. A foreign national inside the U.S. in valid H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 status may be eligible to have an amended petition filed on their behalf or a change of employer petition filed on their behalf. In addition, foreign nationals in valid H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 status may be eligible to extend their status in the U.S.


MICHauto Investor: Restrictive Immigration Policy Hurts Michigan’s Economy

Rami Fakhoury, founder and managing director of MICHauto investor company Fakhoury Global Immigration USA PC, commented on the issue of immigration policy in a Crain’s Detroit Business op-ed. View the full piece below.

The spring and summer of 2020 have seen a dramatic acceleration of the Trump administration’s measures to restrict immigrants from coming into the United States.

After the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House issued a series of proclamations that effectively limited entry into the U.S. from many nations, including Brazil, Iran and the Schengen countries of Europe. Two of the most damaging proclamations were passed in April and June, respectively. April’s proclamation suspended entry into the U.S. for immigrants who were outside the U.S. or did not have a valid visa as of the proclamation’s effective date of April 24.

Although this proclamation was supposed to last only two months, it has been extended until Dec. 31 and could be extended further by the president. A similar proclamation was issued June 22 that barred entry into the U.S. of foreign nationals who did not have a valid visa in certain specific guest worker categories like the H-1B and L-1.

Like its predecessor, the June proclamation will not expire at least until Dec. 31, and may also be extended at the president’s discretion.

Supporters and members of the administration have argued that these proclamations are necessary to protect American workers during a time of unprecedented economic contraction.

Yet, the facts speak otherwise: Immigrants have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to our regional economy. Take one of the best-known guest worker visas — the H-1B, for specialty occupations such as engineers or computer scientists. Well before the pandemic struck, Michigan employers have relied upon H-1B workers to fill highly skilled positions. In FY 2019 alone, Michigan employers secured 4,350 H-1B visas to bring in talent to fill skill gaps. Ultimately, these H-1B guest workers help Michigan businesses to expand and hire more U.S. workers. A study conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy concluded that over 21,800 jobs for U.S.-born workers in Michigan were created between 2010 and 2013 as a result of H-1B workers.

Other guest worker visas, such as the L-1 visa for foreign executives, managers or workers with specialized knowledge, produce similar economic multipliers for our state. These workers often come over to help set up or run Michigan-based offices for overseas companies and, as such, play a major role in driving foreign direct investment in our state.

Indeed, a report issued by Oakland County’s Department of Economic Development and Community Affairs shows that the county attracted $575 million in domestic and foreign investment in 2019, with 41 percent coming from companies headquartered outside of the U.S. Indeed, immigrant-owned firms employed over 167,000 Michiganders in 2018, contributed $7.1 billion in taxes, and had $18.4 million in spending power.

In fact, many of the jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic were not in sectors that generally employ immigrants. Unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that unemployment rates for service occupations jumped from 4.2 percent (June 2019) to 18.8 percent (June 2020), computer and mathematical occupations rose only from 1.5 percent (June 2019) to 4.3 percent (June 2020), while health care practitioners and technical occupations increased from 1.5 percent (June 2019) to 4.2 percent (June 2020).

These statistics show that job losses were highest in lower-skilled service occupations, and that demand for higher-skilled workers in computer science and health care continues.

Even with the high unemployment numbers produced by COVID-19, U.S. businesses still struggle to find qualified skilled talent. The effects of the Trump administration’s proclamations will only aggravate this situation, leading businesses either to relocate their facilities to another country, or to become increasingly disadvantaged as their competitors in other countries attract these workers instead. The Information Technology Industry Council, composed of representatives from the major IT firms, has demanded the White House reconsider its restrictive policy toward immigration.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and three other litigants have gone further and taken the unprecedented step of suing the Trump administration, contending that the proclamations exceed the president’s legitimate authority. Litigators from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Justice Action Center and the Innovation Law Lab have also sued to challenge the entirety of President Donald Trump’s immigration bans.

Business leaders, tech giants and social justice groups all agree — the president’s restrictive proclamations are both morally wrong and economically counterproductive.

Hindering skilled immigrants from entering the U.S. will continue to hinder Michigan’s — and the nation’s — economic recovery. We encourage the Trump administration to reverse its short-sighted restrictionist policy soon so Michiganders, already suffering under the terrible burden of COVID-19, will not have to endure an unnecessarily protracted recession due to the unavailability of skilled talent.

This article was originally published in Crain’s Detroit Business. 

MICHauto Investor Supporting the Work Smart, Play Smart Campaign and How You Can Too

While many in our professional and personal lives are ready to restore a sense of normalcy, we are still in the midst of a global health and economic crisis. In the best interest of our industry and communities, we must continue to act as stewards, following safety protocols to make meaningful progress toward recovery.

Michigan’s automotive industry has demonstrated strength and resilience over the past few months. From manufacturing PPE to developing return-to-work playbooks to implementing a spectrum of safety protocols, the automotive industry has established a model for how to adapt and overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19.

MICHauto recently launched the Work Smart, Play Smart to Keep Manufacturing Open campaign, emphasizing the importance of personal accountability to support the industry’s reopening and recovery efforts.

MICHauto investor, Lear Corp., is just one company that has found this campaign’s toolkit to be helpful in educating employees about the importance of following safety protocols outside of work.

“We appreciate the initiative taken by MICHauto to develop this industry-wide campaign in a plug-and-play format. It’s informative and adds an extra layer of education to our existing SafeWork Playbook communications,” said Katya Pruett, vice president of marketing and corporate communications for Lear.

Lear was one of the first companies to launch their return-to-work playbook back in April.

With the help of MICHauto’s comprehensive toolkit, here are some actions you and your business can take today to make an impact:

  1. Share “SMART” COVID-19 personal safety protocols in internal emails and/or newsletters: Promote the Work Smart, Play Smart campaign’s “SMART” COVID-19 personal safety protocols via staff emails to remind your team of the personal safety measures that can be applied within and outside of the workplace.
  2. Post infographics in shared workspaces: Utilize signage throughout your facility to encourage the implementation of safety measures and remind employees of the steps they can actively be taking to maintain a healthy environment at work and at home.
  3. Hold a staff meeting to discuss workplace safety guidelines: Engage in open conversations with your staff to review “SMART” COVID-19 personal safety protocols, encourage participation, answer questions, and provide resources.
  4. Identify “SMART” COVID-19 personal safety point person(s): Identify point people within your facilities who can answer employee questions as they arise and provide additional resources as your team works to implement the Work Smart, Play Smart campaign’s “SMART” COVID-19 personal safety protocols.
  5. Engage on social media: Share the Work Smart, Play Smart campaign and “SMART” COVID-19 personal safety protocols through social media channels to encourage participation, share helpful resources, and start an open dialogue with your audience.

Learn more at

State Announces First-of-Its-Kind Connected Corridor from Detroit to Ann Arbor

The State of Michigan announced yesterday a new project with Cavnue to develop a first-of-its-kind corridor for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) linking Detroit to Ann Arbor. This endeavor will focus on creating more accessible, equitable, affordable, and sustainable transit options for the region.

Cavnue, a subsidiary of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, has been named the Master Developer of the project. Cavnue will coordinate with the Michigan Department of Transit (MDOT), Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), as well as a host of industry and local partners to execute Phase One of this project – a 24-month period to determine the project’s viability through technology testing, roadway design, and exploration of financial models.

The corridor seeks to connect Detroit to Ann Arbor, as well as key destinations along Michigan Avenue and Interstate 94 through Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

The project will advance both mobility and policy goals, creating “future proof” solutions that will evolve to meet transportation needs from CAVs like vans and shuttles to freight and personal vehicles. From a policy perspective, this advancement will contribute to improved safety, regional planning, and considerations to ensure the transportation workforce is considered through the process and supported with good-paying jobs.

As that state’s only automotive cluster organization, MICHauto has long been a fierce supporter of such next-generation mobility developments, engaging with the industry’s top innovators, leaders, and policy-makers to make projects like this feasible and bolster the state’s position as a global automotive leader.

MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. shared his insight with The Detroit News, recalling that about six years ago, statewide business and elected leaders identified the need to craft a plan to combat the Silicon Valley vs. Detroit perception.

“We all collectively said, ‘Not if we have anything to do with it. We built this industry over a century, and it’s been our lifeblood,'” said Stevens. On leading the way in next-generation mobility development he continued, “you have to have the public-private partnerships focused on execution.”

Learn more about the project and view the full announcement.

MICHauto Statement on White House Trade Actions

Detroit, MI – MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. released the following statement today in response to trade actions by the White House relating to tariffs on imports of Canadian aluminum: 

“MICHauto strongly opposes the re-imposition of 10% section 232 national security tariffs on $2.7 billion of aluminum imports from Canada that is already causing retaliation against U.S. imports, as it has before. Canada is our nation’s largest export market, and year over year we’ve seen increases in U.S.-Canada trade as the country buys more from Michigan than all countries in the world combined. Anything that would thwart this growth is particularly damaging to Michigan and the automotive and manufacturing base here.”

“At a time when business of all sizes depends on trade for economic growth and job creation – amid an ongoing economic downturn due to COVID-19 – decreasing the value of our cross-border partnership that has shown resiliency the past few months, is harmful to manufacturing and the economy. Today, more than ever before, the federal government should be a strong advocate for free and fair trade. It is unfortunate to see an action that will also adversely impact the already suffering American consumers by raising the cost of a U.S.-built car tremendously.”

Stevens: The Industry Is Looking Forward

A recent article in The Detroit News highlighted that over the next four years the automotive industry will face a critical transformation with new innovations and investment in automated vehicle development. MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. was asked for his analysis of the industry’s future as well as the current outlook amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Over the next four years, the automotive industry faces a critical transformation with an explosion in the number of electric nameplates available, continued investment in automated vehicles and the impact the shift could have on jobs.

Foremost, however, will be addressing the issues from economic uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic: whether government will coalesce around financial support for struggling suppliers; how the retail market will be impacted by high unemployment and retrenchment; whether business will be exposed to liability claims over COVID-19 claims; who — if anyone — will fund infrastructure improvements to support alternative propulsion systems; how trade policy will affect costs and investments.

‘The industry is looking forward as they design vehicles, as they decide where to build vehicles,’ said Glenn Stevens, executive director of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto group. “What is the climate for increasing manufacturing jobs? Is there an opportunity for reshoring jobs?’

Amidst the uncertainty, automakers will be looking for uniform regulation at a national level and stability in policy when it comes to trade that affects their supply chains, carbon emission and fuel economy standards, and the deployment of automated technology.”

Read the full article on The Detroit News.

Results Are In: COVID-19 Automotive Outlook Flash Survey

MICHauto recently partnered with Dykema and The Right Place to survey automotive industry businesses and professionals to better understand the challenges they are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey results linked below analyze these responses and discuss the impact of COVID-19 on automotive operations and revenues framed by the outlook for the U.S. economy and automotive industry moving forward.

Listen to a Discussion of Survey Results:

Key findings include:

  • 46% of total respondents have a negative outlook of the U.S. economy over the next year, dropping to only 13% over the next 24 months.
  • 56% of total respondents believe U.S. light vehicle production will strengthen in 2021 compared to 2020.
  • 50% of total respondents have accessed the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • 84% of automotive industry respondents were required to suspend or curtail operations in the U.S. due to a government-ordered shutdown, along with nearly 50% shutting down operations in Mexico.
  • 20% of automotive industry respondents were required to suspend or curtail operations in the U.S. due to COVID-19 related issues after reopening, compared to only 5% in Mexico and 5% in Europe.
  • 44% of total respondents believe company revenues will decline more than 20% over the next year, and another 44% expect declines between 1% and 20%.

View and download the full report

Download the At-A-Glance Summary Infographic


WATCH | MICHauto And CAR Present: The Economic Impact Of COVID-19 On Michigan’s Automotive Industry

A leading lineup of automotive industry experts discussed the economic impact of COVID-19 on automotive and the ongoing work required to help the industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The two-part discussion focused first on the industry outlook and then on the policy response.

Panel One: Economic Outlook

Recovery was top of mind for the first panel conversation with IHS Markit’s Kristen Balasia, Magna International’s Eric Wilds, and General Motor Co.’s Doneen McDowell. All agree that there is a spirit of resilience in automotive in Michigan. OEMs like Ford and GM were able to step quickly into learning to produce much-needed PPE and, as a result, learned a tremendous amount of what would be required for their return to work as they came back online in May.

“I, along with an army of folks, went to Kokomo, Indiana to make ventilators,” said McDowell. “We got a good understanding of what our COVID playbook should be and I think everyone recognizes our priority is first to keep our employees safe so that they can go home and keep their families and communities safe.”

In addition to keeping employees healthy, there are positive signs on the economic road to recovery. OEMs are really tracking the data and sales rates to focus and prioritize on the production of high-margin pickups and SUVs, where there continue to be strong sales and returns. The IHS Markit forecast for U.S. light vehicles currently sits at 13.3 million, down 21% from the beginning of the year.

“We definitely see some positive signs,” said Balasia. “We think that this is going to be a deeper recession than we saw in the last dip and financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, but hopefully shorter….It’s going to be really important that OEMs stay close to the sales rate and on which specific vehicles and that they have the right production plans and worker availability to support the demand.”

Wilds concurred with Balasia on an optimistic second half of the year, explaining that fluctuation in product segments is a challenge, but no different than during the normal course of business. Suppliers like Magna International continue to focus on the successful ramp-up of high performing products and mitigate some of the lower-volume segments.

With the average age of vehicles on the road at 11.9 years and a possible extension of another four to six months due to COVID-19, strategic planning is critical for the supply chain to meet consumer demand when customers are ready to buy. It is also important to continue focusing on long term trends like electrification and ADAS for a strong future.

When asked by “Autoline” host and panel moderator John McElroy about how productivity and quality are impacted on the assembly lines with the new safety protocols in place, McDowell was clear that there will not be an impact on quality of parts. Team members understand why masks, gloves, and physical separation are in place and continue to support those requirements.

“To address the pandemic is a team sport,” said McDowell. “We all need to do our part. This is not just at work, it’s when you’re home and in the community; and the more we as individuals can protect the herd or the whole, I think it will be better for everyone involved.”

Panel Two: Policy Response

When asked by Mcelroy how Michigan could be more like South Korea, Germany, or New Zealand in terms of COVID-19 recovery, Sen. Mallory McMorrow noted that a full recovery is a matter of will. At any given moment, we are only four to six weeks away from containing the virus. The community and industry need to continue to be diligent, reflect on what we did well, and keep going.

The state’s priority is keeping Michigan the best place to do automotive work. The Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s (MEDC) Josh Hundt and Center for Automotive Research’s Kristin Dziczek reinforced economic recovery goes hand-in-hand with health and safety. Strategic actions to support small automotive and mobility businesses across the state have been a significant focus for the MEDC. The Pure Michigan Business Connect Access and Retooling Grant helped 12 small businesses quickly retool to manufacture 5.5 million pieces of PPE. Further, campaigns like #MaskUpMichigan and Work Smart, Play Smart to Keep Manufacturing Open spread the message about health and safety beyond the workplace.

On the distinctly complex, global nature of this industry, Dziczek noted the importance of keeping a healthy flow of parts, healthy workers, a healthy supply chain, and healthy demand to keep the industry going. And beyond the automotive business tactics involved for recovery, McMorrow explained the need for bipartisan collaboration on budgetary and Federal funding matters.

Another critical component will be a robust talent pipeline. The state need to build on its strengths with the high concentration of engineers, strong manufacturing and skilled trades, and growing technology talent, especially in terms of software engineering. Key to maintaining Michigan’s leadership in these areas is education funding. As part of the MI Safe Schools Roadmap, the state allocated $256 million in funding for K-12 schools, with continued pushes for additional Federal funding to ensure student, teacher, and staff safety.

As the industry’s future continues to unfold and new macro trends emerge, Michigan’s economy post-COVID-19 will be poised for recovery and long-term growth, despite the challenges along the way.

MICHauto, Detroit Mobility Solutions Coalition Discuss State’s New Mobility Office, Startups, and Diversity and Inclusion

Since December of 2016, MICHauto has convened the Detroit Mobility Solutions Coalition to gather key voices and industry stakeholders to share information, ideas, and generate synergy. Since the initial meeting, a wide array of important initiatives and projects have come to fruition through this collaboration. MICHauto continues to convene this original group along with a host of partner organizations to provide an update on what is going on in Detroit’s mobility landscape and discuss potential collective action moving forward. On July 8, this group hosted its first virtual meeting and heard from speakers including:

  • Adam Jansen, Plug and Play Detroit
  • Stacey Matlen, Senior Mobility Strategist, City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation
  • Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer, State of Michigan
  • Dexter Sullivan, Program Manager, Michigan Mobility Institute
  • Eric Thomas, Chief Storyteller, City of Detroit

Topics ranged from equity and inclusion in the mobility sector to bringing a new global startup accelerator to Detroit (Plug and Play). Participants also heard from Trevor Pawl, who will be leading the new Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification.