$39M in Going PRO Talent Fund grants awarded to train 30,000 workers at more than 850 Michigan businesses

Funds help Michigan employers prepare the talent they need to compete and grow; workers gain skills needed for in-demand career paths

LANSING, Mich. – Through $39,015,052 in grants from the Going PRO Talent Fund, Michigan is helping nearly 30,000 workers across the state to secure employment, industry-recognized credentials and strong wages by providing training grants to more than 850 Michigan businesses to support their high-demand, high-skill talent needs.

“Now more than ever, we need to invest in our talent and businesses to ensure strong economic recovery and growth,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “Programs like the Going PRO Talent Fund allow us to put Michiganders on the path to good paying jobs while helping Michigan employers develop the critical talent they need to compete in the global economy.”

Since the program’s launch in 2014, over 3,000 Michigan businesses have received Talent Fund awards to assist in training, developing and retaining newly hired and current employees. Training must fill a demonstrated talent need experienced by the employer and lead to a credential for a skill that is transferable and recognized by industry.

The Going PRO Talent Fund has supported more than 94,000 workers with training over the years, including new hires and current workers.

“With 545,000 professional trades job openings expected through the year 2026, this fund plays a vital role in helping Michigan employers meet their talent needs by investing in homegrown workers,” Susan Corbin, acting director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) said.

LEO makes Going PRO Talent Fund awards to employers through Michigan Works! Agencies (MWAs). Participating employers play an integral role in defining their key training needs, then work with the local MWAs and other partners to develop appropriate, realistic training plans.

The Going PRO Talent Fund aligns with Governor Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree to 60 percent by 2030.

To learn more about the Going PRO Talent Fund, visit Michigan.gov/TalentFund.

Transportation Economic Development Grant Will Support 2,200 New Jobs In Detroit

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has awarded a state transportation economic development grant that will support 2,200 new jobs in the city of Detroit. The grant will help fund infrastructure improvements related to General Motors Co.’s (GM) Factory ZERO plant that straddles the Detroit-Hamtramck border.

“This is good news for our families, our businesses, and our economy as a whole. Every Michigander deserves to drive on our roads safely, without blowing a tire or cracking a windshield, and this partnership with GM will help us reach that goal while creating good jobs for Michigan workers,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “I am pleased that we were able to work with this long-standing company and the City of Detroit on the road improvements necessary to support GM’s Factory ZERO, and I will continue working with everyone who wants to create Michigan jobs and improve our state’s infrastructure. Let’s get to work.”

“General Motors appreciates the support from MDOT and the City of Detroit for these much-needed road improvements,” said Jim Quick, plant director at Factory ZERO, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center. “Factory ZERO is an important piece of our journey to an all-electric future and these road improvements will greatly help our employees and the community as we prepare to build electric trucks and the Cruise Origin.”

“This strategic investment from the state will help the city upgrade the road infrastructure around GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, which will create 2,200 new jobs at a plant that was once expected to close. Instead, it will produce the vehicles of the future and provide tremendous opportunity for hundreds more Detroiters to join our city’s growing middle class. I’m deeply appreciative to the state and GM for their commitment to this project and their investment in our city,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

GM designs, builds, and sells cars, trucks, crossovers, and automobile parts worldwide. Its core brands include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. GM recently announced that 40% of its U.S. entries will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025. Factory ZERO is a key part of GM’s transition to electric vehicles and will be the launchpad for GM’s multi-brand electric vehicle strategy. The company’s largest investment in any plant in its history, GM is investing $2.2 billion in Factory ZERO, reconfiguring it to an all-electric vehicle assembly plant.

GM chose its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center as the location for the center of its electric vehicle strategy, but the surrounding infrastructure was a concern. The roads around the plant are all in poor condition and have reached the end of their service life. GM was concerned that the poor condition of the roads could provide a problem with their just-in-time manufacturing processes. The company was also concerned with the possibility of receiving damaged parts and potential damage to delivery trucks.

Work funded in part with this grant will involve rebuilding and repaving with concrete Mt. Elliott Street from Conant Street to Harper Avenue, Conant Street from Mt. Elliott Street north to the city limit just south of Miller Street, Hamtramck Drive from E. Grand Boulevard north to the Detroit city limit, and E. Grand Boulevard from Trombly Street to Hamtramck Drive.

The total project cost is $11,686,313. The TEDF Category A share of the project is $6,000,000, with the City of Detroit providing $5,686,313 in matching funds. Total participating building costs are $9,109,051. The City of Detroit will provide $2,577,262 for non-building project-related costs. In addition, the City of Detroit will provide $1,262,060 for non-participating work costs for rebuilding sidewalks.  Enacted in 1987 and reauthorized in 1993, the TEDF helps finance highway, road and street projects that are critical to the movement of people and products, and getting workers to their jobs, materials to growers and manufacturers, and finished goods to consumers.

TEDF “Category A” or “Targeted Industries Program” grants provide state funding for public roadway improvements that allow road agencies to respond quickly to the transportation needs of expanding companies and eliminate inadequate roadways as an obstacle to private investment and job creation. Eligible road agencies include MDOT, county road commissions, cities, and villages. More information about the program is available online at www.Michigan.gov/TEDF.

Announcing the CEO Coalition for Change, an Industry Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative | Jan. 25

Join MICHauto, in partnership with CADIA, for the CEO Coalition for Change launch event on Jan. 25 at 11:30 a.m. The CEO Coalition for Change is a group of automotive CEOs committed to taking action to make meaningful strides in diversity, equity, and inclusion to become a more inclusive industry, better engage the workforce, and create economic opportunities in the communities in which we serve and operate.

Attendees will hear from the CEO Coalition’s founding organizations and CEOs, along with industry leaders.

Speakers include:

  • Lori Costew, Chief Diversity Officer and People Strategy, Ford Motor Company
  • Ramzi Hermiz, Chairman of the Board, The Automotive Hall of Fame
  • Dennis Hoeg, President, Nexteer Automotive
  • Lisa Lunsford, CEO and Co-Founder, GS3; Chair, MICHauto Board of Directors
  • Samir Salman, CEO, Continental North America
  • Sandy Stojkovski, CEO, Vitesco Technologies North America
  • Ray Telang, U.S. Automotive Lead, Detroit Market, PwC

Register now to attend the launch event and find out how you can be part of the CEO Coalition for Change.

Data Highlight: MICHauto Automobility Asset Map

The MICHauto Automobility Asset Map highlights the automotive and mobility assets throughout the state of Michigan. The map directory of assets is categorized by OEM Headquarters and research and development centers, OEM assembly plants, deployments and proving grounds, mobility assets, top suppliers, entrepreneur resources, component assembly plants, universities, and transportation. Selecting an asset to explore, prompts the map to show the specific locations for each business, which can be used to identify business clusters. For example, a majority of automotive suppliers are located in Southeast, Central, and West regions of Michigan. However, entrepreneur resources are sprawled across the state with the University Research Corridor in Lansing, 20Fathoms in Traverse City, and Michigan Technological University Office of Innovation and Commercialization in the Upper Peninsula.

MICHauto recently updated the asset map to include the 22nd OEM to locate in Michigan – Lordstown Motors. By clicking on their profile, users can access their address, website, and location on the map in relation to other OEM headquarters and R&D centers. Their decision to establish an automotive R&D center in Michigan brings the total number of OEM headquarters and R&D centers to 24 (22 unique OEMs), all located in the Southeast Michigan region.

This tool is also helpful for organizations focused on business attraction, including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. Kathryn Snorrason, managing director for the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, explains how valuable this tool is for showcasing the business opportunities in Michigan.

“The MICHauto Automobility Asset Map helps out-of-state clients become familiar with the automotive and mobility ecosystem here in Michigan. Clients quickly grasp the vast number of companies spread across the state, and they have the opportunity to dive deeper to understand the details surrounding each of those companies,” said Snorrason. “When you map out the power of the automotive and mobility ecosystem, clients from around the world can easily see an opportunity for their company to be successful here in Michigan.”

Looking at the entire map of Michigan provides a view of all assets across the state making it clear that Michigan is the automotive mobility state.

View the map here. Also, check back for updates as we continue to expand the map.

In Case You Missed It: A Conversation with Jonathan Jennings

In a special convening on Jan.13, MICHauto investor CEOs had an opportunity to connect virtually with Jonathan Jennings, vice president of Global Commodity Purchasing and Supplier Technical Assistance for Ford Motor Company.

Jennings has been with Ford for more than 28 years and is a mechanical engineer by trade. He has worked in several different functions that span manufacturing, manufacturing engineering, quality, purchasing, and product engineering across the U.S. and internationally.

His latest role has proven to be uniquely challenging as he transitioned during the peak of COVID-19. Jennings says he appreciates that the situation accelerated his learning within the company, allowing him to challenge himself and his team to be more nimble and to immediately engage with the supply base. One challenge that several supplier CEOs related to is the ongoing balance between managing tactically day-to-day, while also ensuring adequate time for planning strategically for a successful future.

With Jim Farley now at the helm as CEO of Ford, there is a new energy backed company-wide on executing “The Plan.”  Jennings highlighted a few key areas that are especially critical to future growth for Ford:

  • Capitalize on strengths and build upon areas we know are strong.
  • Disrupt themselves to compete beyond automotive, in software and hardware.
  • Focus on electrification to meet compliance and, more importantly, provide the product and the services that win customers.

During the Q&A portion, several questions were brought up by supplier CEOs related to current events and impacts to production as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the supply chain and vehicle production. And while there is no crystal ball to know what 2021 will look like, there is a concerted effort to stay focused on taking action in the first half of the year, collectively with the supply base, to position for a positive second half in what is expected to be another extremely fluid year.

When asked how Ford keeps its plan front and center with employees, Jennings said that the company is laser focused. In every meeting, the question is asked if this supports the plan and propels us forward. It is this type of focus that is important for the automotive and mobility industry. Having the discipline to schedule strategic “think” time to reflect on what the company is doing strategically and competitively is another way for the team to stay on course.

Asked by Glenn Stevens Jr. which Ford vehicle Jennings is most excited about, he says the Mustang Mach-E is a very special vehicle. Driving the MACH-E, Jennings says, he can see how people do not want to go back once they have driven electrical vehicles. It is not just the incredible design and appearance of the vehicle, but the customer interface with the vehicle that really locks it in as a standout. Not surprisingly, the Ford Mustang Mach-E was announced this week as North American Utility Vehicle of the Year™.

CEO Spotlight: Jay Sandhu of NYX, LLC

Jay Sandhu is the chief executive director for NYX, LLC, a market-leading provider of interior, under-hood, and technology solutions for the automotive industry. MICHauto had the chance to speak with Sandhu and hear more about his achievements and motivations.

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of personally or professionally?

I am proud of the management team we have built here at NYX. I have seen them grow and handle challenges with speed and confidence.

What advice do you have for the next generation?

Find what you are good at and work really hard at that. It will build your self-confidence and will allow you to be successful.

What would you tell young professionals about our automotive industry to keep them in Michigan?

It is a very exciting time to be in automotive. There is lots of innovation and change happening in our industry, and Michigan is still the epicenter for our industry.

What are you grateful for?

My family and the dedication of our NYX team.

When is it okay to encourage risk among your team?

When you can fully understand the downside from the risk and are willing to accept and manage that outcome.

How do you keep your team motivated in the face of conflicts or obstacles?

Focus on the big picture, understand the challenge, and believe in your team that you can overcome the obstacle.

Happy Holidays from MICHauto

In the past year, we have witnessed more tragedy and triumph than we could have ever imagined. Throughout my career in the automotive industry, I have never seen people and companies do what has been done in the last nine months. You looked out for your employees and colleagues, helped mobilize the “Arsenal of Health” to support front-line workers, and worked to provide a safe workplace when the wheels of the industry began to turn again. Together we worked to keep manufacturing open for our economy, for our communities, and for our people.

Our team at MICHauto has been with you every step of this journey. I am extremely proud of the work we have done. Throughout the last nine months, we have advocated to keep manufacturing open on behalf of the automotive industry. Most notably, we reached out to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on your behalf, urging for the reopening of manufacturing. As a direct result of MICHauto’s lobbying, the state allowed a critical ramp-up period for automotive suppliers to safely and productively restart the industry’s supply chain. Manufacturing reopened on May 11, 2020, and has stayed open since.

One of MICHauto’s goals has been to raise awareness of the impact the automotive and mobility industry has on our state’s economy. In the MI COVID-19 Priorities Poll released this week by the Detroit Regional Chamber, it was gratifying to learn one-third of Michiganders agree – manufacturing is the most important area of our economy to keep open.

On behalf of MICHauto, I want to say thank you. We are grateful for your partnership, support, and collaboration. It is a privilege to serve as the leading voice and advocate for Michigan’s automotive and mobility community. We value the opportunity to serve your organization and look forward to building a stronger future for our state’s signature industry.

As we reflect on what we have been through and the opportunities that lies ahead, stay safe and be well. On behalf of the MICHauto Team, I wish you, your families, and your colleagues all the best for this holiday season and the year ahead.


Best Regards,

Glenn Stevens Jr.

Executive Director, MICHauto;

Vice President, Automotive and Mobility Initiatives,

Detroit Regional Chamber

CEO Spotlight: Lisa Lunsford

Lisa Lunsford is the co-founder and CEO of Global Strategic Supply Solutions (GS3), a supply chain integrator providing metal-form manufacturing and light assembly services since 2010. In September, Lunsford was named Chair of the MICHauto Board of Directors. MICHauto had the opportunity to speak with Lunsford and hear more about her professional accomplishments, inspirations, and more.

What is your number one priority as CEO?

As the leader of my company, my number one priority is growth. However, our success hinges on a wide range of interconnected priorities, like managing risks associated with incoming opportunities; leveraging existing technologies while managing the adoption of new innovations; and investing in people who are integral to our continuing success.

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of personally or professionally?

I’m honored that I now have the opportunity to work with the MICHauto team as the Board Chair to collaborate, discuss, and act on strategies that will advance, sustain, and promote the automotive industry. Building a career working with the right people and processes to create successful solutions has prepared me for the challenges MICHauto will face going forward, bringing together people and ideas from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, and putting those assets to work in a way that brings out the best in our industry.

Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?

Among the many voices of wisdom that have guided me over the years, I’m grateful that I can pick up the phone and talk through a tough situation with Jean Chamberlain, former executive director of the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce. Jean is a pioneer in Michigan politics, including her career working with the late L. Brooks Patterson, and serving as the first and only South Oakland Governmental Liaison. I admire her honesty and clarity, and I go to her when I need advice from someone who does not — and will not — sugarcoat the facts.

What would you tell young professionals about our automotive industry to keep them in Michigan?

Because the auto industry is in your backyard, you have the unique opportunity to experience each individual aspect of the automotive ecosystem up-close, from refining petrochemicals to mobility technology — all of the elements that touch our industry. Now, once you do that, I suggest that you go out and explore the world, absorbing the best lessons from wherever you can learn them, and then bring that knowledge and experience back to add to our region’s collective value, which will drive the industry forward.

What is your favorite car and why?

The 1970 Mach 1 Mustang. You never forget the first car you fall in love with, until you drive a Mach 1.

APMA 2020 Conference: Why Invest in Partnerships

For the first time in 68 years, the APMA Conference was held virtually Nov. 18-20 to focus on Canada’s renaissance in automotive. Much like neighboring Detroit, Canada is focusing on zero emissions by 2050 and working with OEMs and research partners to progress in the electric vehicle (EV) sector. Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association opened the three-day event by celebrating the recent commitments of Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and General Motors Co. (GM) to grow the automotive ecosystem and focus on EVs. The 72 industry experts participating in the conference walked through the opportunities, threats, challenges, and aspirations of the sector.

Carolyn Sauer, senior director of MICHauto participated in a panel session, Why Invest in Partnerships, moderated by Matt Johnson, executive director of the Institute of Border Logistics and Security for the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation along with four other industry experts. Based in the Windsor-Detroit channel, this panel explored the opportunities that could blossom from bi-national partnerships and investments. Especially in this new environment, the importance of investing in partners and sharing a connected approach allows for:

  • Building and growth of our research and talent pipeline.
  • Strengthening our trade and global competitiveness.
  • Connecting and growing our innovation assets.
  • Building a more inclusive and diverse ecosystem.

With more than 26% of North American light vehicle production being manufactured in the Great Lakes Region across Michigan and Canada, the sharing of resources in manufacturing and IT across our region has been prevalent. The pandemic has driven a trend towards localization, and this poses a significant opportunity for our region to lead the globe in new technology and EVs.

When it comes to emerging technology, many people think of Silicon Valley as a leader in forward thinking and new technology development. Asked how Michigan and Canada can work together to improve regions ranking, Hind Ourahou, senior mobility strategist for the City of Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation, says there is no comparison.

“Silicon Valley emerged as this IT and software powerhouse that immediately attracted young professionals with its new way of working and forward thinking. But Silicon Valley does not have the longstanding history and capability of making things. The only place in North America where you can overlay the circle of manufacturing and IT is right here. The Great Lakes region is really where it all comes together,” said Sauer.

Collectively, panelists agreed that more can be done to spread the word about our unique collaborations and opportunities in the region. We need to continue working together, not just to advance technology, but to promote our brand as an industry – high-tech, real, and thriving. Software developers, programmers, and data scientists are needed to make it work. There is something really special about Detroit’s partnership with Canada.

“We’re the real powerhouse that’s going to keep moving this forward.  We make an impact, we make the product, and we make the change,” said Sauer.

Mobility and Industry 4.0: Working Together for Michigan’s Future

This article was authored by MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. as a guest blog for Automation Alley. The piece discusses the intersection of mobility and Industry 4.0.

In 1901 Ransom E. Olds set up the first automobile manufacturing plant in Lansing, Michigan. Two years later, Henry Ford launched the Ford Motor Company, which would soon build the Model-T. Although Olds utilized conveyor systems in his first plant, the revolutionary development that enabled the mass production of vehicles did not come until 1913 when the modern assembly line was introduced at the Highland Park Ford plant.

Now, 119 years later, we are witnessing two significant manufacturing developments unfold in the Detroit region. The new FCA assembly plant and General Motors Co.’s Factory Zero will not only be manufacturing world-class vehicles featuring electrified propulsion systems, but they will also be enabled by the technologies of Industry 4.0. At the industry’s peak in the United States there were hundreds of companies designing, engineering, and manufacturing light vehicles. While the industry settled into several major players for decades, we are now witnessing another significant inflection point. The current mobility transformation is driven by major technologies in the areas of connected, automated, electrified, and shared.

The electric vehicle (EV) explosion, which was initiated by Elon Musk, has more than taken hold. In fact, what we are witnessing in the EV OEM world is strikingly like the growth of entrepreneurs and innovators in the market growth for manufacturers in the early 20th century. Long ago, there were companies such as DeSoto and Packard. Although they no longer exist, our familiar hometown OEMs Ford, General Motors, and FCA have grown and thrived globally, leading the mobility transformation. In addition, the EV industry has spawned new companies following in Tesla’s footprint, including Lucid, Lordstown Motors, Bollinger Motors, Rivian, Fisker, and Atlis. These modern automotive companies are the Studebakers and Tuckers of today. Just like in the last century, there will be winners, acquisitions, and failures. The winners and losers will include the regions of the world where new technologies are created and manufactured.

The vehicles of yesterday and the new innovations of next-generation mobility have been brought to life through innovative design and manufacturing processes. Today, Industry 4.0 and Mobility go hand in hand – one enabling the other. Walking through today’s engineering and manufacturing centers you will see robots, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, and other cutting-edge technologies. In both the plants and vehicles there are two major common technologies: connectivity of the internet of things and cybersecurity. Today’s data-driven, automated, and extremely connected plants are producing vehicles enabled by tens of millions of lines of code that must be protected by the latest in cybersecurity technology.

In the automotive industry in Michigan and globally the buzzword has overwhelming been “mobility.” Fortunately, we have organizations like Automation Alley that have led the way as thought leaders to ensure our region advances and leads with Industry 4.0 technologies. The conversation around mobility and electrification must include what drives the design, engineering, testing, and manufacturing of today’s vehicles and will enable our leadership in the opportunity of next-generation mobility. For Michigan to lead in the future, the industry must be globally competitive in how we manufacture and bring new modes of transportation to life.

The mobility and Industry 4.0 conversations are directly linked. In fact, this is Michigan’s competitive advantage, if we seize it. Revolutionary technologies in creating and manufacturing vehicles will again enable mass production, but this time it will be Michigan’s leadership in next-generation mobility vehicles and technologies.

I would submit that there are two driving forces behind the mobility inflection point: global societal changes and economic opportunity.  Mobility technology must help solve the global issues of congestion and thus, emissions, safety, traffic fatalities, and injuries, as well as the ability of our citizens to be connected and have mobility solutions. People must be able to access health care, work, and education for economic growth, and mobility technologies can help solve global issues instead of contributing to them. The other opportunity is economic.  Michigan’s automotive industry has an economic contribution to the state of over $225 billion, while the global auto industry is typically described as being a $3 trillion market.  As we look to the future, personal mobility in the shared use economy is projected to be upwards of a $7 trillion industry. The opportunity for Michigan is to seize on this market potential, but the success will depend on the collaboration of companies, organizations, and very critically the talent required for both Industry 4.0 and mobility technologies. The opportunity to leverage our manufacturing heritage to create the vehicles and technologies of the future is one we collectively must seize. The alternative is not an option.

*Originally published on the Automation Alley Blog.