High-Tech Talent is Michigan’s Future

Digital Lakes, a new nonprofit whose mission is to attract, develop, and retain diverse high-tech talent while elevating the digital growth of the entire region, facilitated a conversation among partners KPMG and MICHauto at the Detroit Athletic Club on Thursday, Sept. 29.

Employers Must Rethink Their Hiring Processes to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Emma Andersen, director of Deal Advisory and People Strategy at KPMG, opened the conversation by saying that the labor market is “an incredibly inefficient economic market” and doesn’t meet the needs of candidates or hiring organizations. Factors that contribute to this include:

  • Lack of units of measure
  • Lack of visibility
  • Lack of pricing transparency
  • Lack of skill definition
  • Lack of available talent

Companies exacerbate this problem with their own hiring procedures such as overvaluing referrals, hiring candidates that aren’t actively seeking jobs, using inaccurate job descriptions, considering too many candidates, poorly structured interviews, and prolonging the interview process. Another common practice that works against employers is discarding candidates that aren’t the best fit for the job they applied for instead of evaluating if they could be a better fit elsewhere in the company. Overvaluing a candidate’s potential to be a good fit for the culture can also shift focus away from whether they have the right skillset for the position.

When beginning the hiring process, employers tend to post the position externally before looking internally for talent that may already exist within. This approach is expensive, ineffective, and doesn’t ultimately lead to increased retention. Citing a study from the ADP Research Institute, Andersen said, “the cost of acquiring a new hire is about 50% of that individual’s salary. With U.S. companies paying $15 billion annually for hiring support, the estimated cost of continuous voluntary turnover in the U.S. is $630 million per year.”

Cities in Michigan that are experiencing the most growth are Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Ann Arbor, and Battle Creek. However, with more growth comes more demand and competition among employers for talent. Based on data tracked from 2018-2022, an average of only two out of five positions are being filled, showing that the demand is not being satisfied.

To address this problem, Michigan will need to take a multipronged approach which includes investing in communities, reskilling the existing workforce, and hiring for skills over degrees. Employers will also need to consider what talent is seeking from them, like pay transparency, formal and informal professional development, and meaningful work.

Andersen concluded by saying, “you can’t make a tech hub overnight. It’s going to take a lot of partnership between organizations.”

Building the Foundation for Michigan’s Tech Future

Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives at the Detroit Regional chamber, highlighted that not only is Michigan’s job market growing, but these new jobs require a higher proficiency in technological skills than others. With tech hubs popping up in Tennessee, Ohio, and Ontario supported by government and industry investment, it’s critical for Michigan to take steps to ensure that it is positioned as desirable place to live, work, and play.

The sustainability and digitalization of the vehicle and the ecosystem around it are creating new opportunities in Michigan’s automotive and mobility industry and driving growth. Stevens said, “one of the things we all know is we make things here,” including at GM’s Orion assembly plant, which will soon be the third primarily electric assembly plant in the state. With nine more plants yet to be converted, the transition to EV is far from over, but the industry’s supply chain, talent, and technology have already been impacted.

“One of the things I always heard in this industry growing up in Michigan and going through it, is we need to diversify away from automotive. I would argue that the best platform for diversification is our automotive industry,” said Stevens. “When you look at all of things happening in Factory 4.0 and the connected vehicle, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, why not expand those into other industries in Michigan? Now tech becomes industry agnostic.” To be successful moving forward, we must bolster the manufacturing footprint that already exists and build the digital tech and knowledge-based economy.

Stevens noted that while prominent, Silicon Valley is not the only blueprint for developing a tech hub. Michigan’s neighbors in Ontario have already evolved their approach to talent attraction by branding and positioning their tech hub as “The Corridor.” Ohio has also launched a successful initiative called OhioX with a mission to build the state as a tech hub. “Our competition is right next door,” he warned.

“When you look at why a company grows, it’s about consistency in workforce, high-tech talent, skilled trades, and digital proficiency in all jobs,” said Stevens. He also cautioned that as companies grow, they shouldn’t limit their perception of the talent pool. “It’s not just about youth. We must look at this holistically. It’s about new Americans, retraining and reskilling, and people coming back into society from incarceration. There should be opportunity for everyone,” he said.

Ultimately, ensuring that Michigan is a place that people want to live, work, and play is the base for all of this. “If you don’t have that, the rest does not matter,” Stevens said.

Talent Isn’t a Pipeline, It’s a Supply Chain

Robert McMahan, president of Kettering University, said the bottom line is that we treat everything in business as a supply chain problem except the most critical element, which is talent. “That’s what makes their organization go and it’s the only thing they treat as a hunting and gathering problem.”

He noted that these companies look to universities to deliver students with the right skills, universities look to high schools, and high schools look all the way back to middle schools. Because STEM and technical disciplines are “implicitly linear in their nature,” the chain of custody for the development of talent starts very early. The key inflection point for the talent supply chain is in the 5th and 6th grades, where students make key life decisions not by pursuing something but by withdrawing from subjects they deem uninteresting or too difficult. “We have to engage that supply chain in its formative stages as meaningfully and as seriously as we engage it in its latter stages,” McMahan proposed.

McMahan shared that the founders of Kettering University “understood that to build the industry, they would have to take the tens of thousands of untrained people flooding into Flint and they would have to train them in a way that was practical, applied, and integrated with the businesses they were building. There is a difference between learning and mastering, and that is practice.” If businesses want talent that fits their specifics needs, they will need to not only work collaboratively with education partners, but also shift their efforts to much earlier than they have done previously.

Glenn Stevens Jr. Joins Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan’s Board of Directors

The Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan’s 106th Annual Meeting of the Council of Trustees and a joint meeting with the Board of Directors was held on Wednesday, Sept. 21. The primary purpose of the meeting was the election of members and officers of both bodies.

Newly elected to the Council of Trustees are Madhu Anderson from The Nature Conservancy, David Blaszkiewicz from Invest Detroit, Chase Cantrell from Building Community Value, Michael Goorhouse from Community Foundation for Holland and Zeeland, Carolee Kvoriak from Consumers Energy, Tom Kyros from Varnum, and Kathleen Wilbur from Michigan State University.

The Council bids adieu to five departing directors – Beth Bialy from Plante Moran, Larry Bryant from Comerica Bank, Ron Hall from Bridgewater Interiors, Michael McGee from Miller Canfield, and Diane Young from The Athena Financial Group.

The newly elected Board of Directors include Darnell Adams from the Gilbert Family Foundation, Stacie Behler from Grand Valley State University, Paul Bryant from Plante Moran, Mark Burton from Honigman LLP, Zenna Elhasan from the Kresge Foundation, Patrick McGow from Miller Canfield, and Glenn Stevens Jr. from MICHauto.

Learn more about the Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan. 

Glenn Stevens Jr. on WJR-AM: Detroit Auto Show Highlights

Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber, spoke with WJR-AM at the Detroit Auto Show Charity Preview to discuss the show’s highlights. Listen to the full interview below.

Sept. 16, 2022

Midwestern Partnership Backs Hydrogen as Clean Energy Source

Crain’s Detroit Business
John Flesher
Sept. 19, 2022

Seven Midwestern states are teaming up to accelerate the development of hydrogen as a clean-energy alternative for automobiles and factories that rely largely on climate-warming fossil fuels, governors said Monday.

The partnership includes Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, whose economies are dominated by agriculture and heavy industry such as steel and automobile manufacturing.

“The Midwest will continue leading the future of mobility and energy innovation and has enormous potential for transformative hydrogen investments,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.

Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless gas that already powers some cars, trucks, buses and trains. But a shortage of fueling stations limits their appeal. Some environmentalists are skeptical because most commercially produced hydrogen in the U.S. comes from natural gas, which emits greenhouse pollutants carbon dioxide and methane.

But hydrogen can be derived using electric currents from wind, solar or other means that produce few if any emissions contributing to global warming. Such “clean hydrogen” releases only water as a byproduct when used in a fuel cell.

“We don’t have to choose between clean energy and clean air and creating good-paying jobs and a strong economy — we can do both,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said.

The federal infrastructure law enacted last year included $8 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy to fund regional “hubs” that would step up clean hydrogen production and distribution.

Climate legislation that President Joe Biden signed last month offers a tax credit intended to make clean hydrogen more competitive.

Those measures “made it almost certain that clean hydrogen development will become a major alternative for producing energy both in the Midwest and nationally,” said Zachary Kolodin, Michigan’s chief infrastructure officer.

States in the Rocky Mountains and the deep South announced regional associations earlier this year. Another was proposed for the Los Angeles Basin in California.

The Midwestern Hydrogen Coalition hasn’t committed to joint pursuit of federal funding, although smaller groups of states or industries might seek grants. Instead, the seven-state partnership will focus on boosting development, markets, supply chains and a workforce for clean hydrogen, according to a joint statement.

It will take advantage of assets such as the region’s pipelines and tanks for distributing and storing ammonia, which consists largely of hydrogen and is a key ingredient in fertilizer.

Hydrogen “could help us end the use of fossil fuels, and it could be especially helpful for industry, which is the hardest to decarbonize,” said Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer with the Michigan Environmental Council. “But not all hydrogen is clean.”

Midwest states should focus on hydrogen made from renewables and should not use their coalition to “delay moving our power systems to renewable energy and electrifying our buildings and transportation,” Jameson said. “We have the solutions and the momentum to do that now.”

View the original article. 

Ancor: Q&A With Glenn Stevens Jr.

There are many different factors, thoughts and approaches happening in the current evolution of the automotive industry. During this dynamic time, Ancor Automotive has become a proud investor of MICHauto, the state’s only automotive and mobility cluster association that promotes, retains, and grows Michigan’s signature industry. To help us get an inside view of what’s going on in the industry, we sat down with Glenn Stevens Jr., Executive Director of MICHauto and Vice President of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Ancor: The auto industry is going through a significant evolution – what does this mean for Michigan?

Glenn: The industry is definitely going through a transformation and a transition, one that I think is probably not like anything we’ve ever seen. If you think about it, an industry that’s been doing the same thing for 120 years, all built around the internal combustion engine, is now transitioning to an electrified and very digitalized form of transportation. That means there’s a tremendous amount happening. And there is no greater concentration of automotive OEMs, suppliers, research and development and testing happening in the world compared to Michigan. That’s a fact. Are there other centers of excellence around the globe? Yes, but not like the concentration we have here in Michigan. We’re operating from a great base of history and a great base of R&D, engineering, and advanced manufacturing.

The way to keep Michigan at the forefront is to make sure that as the vehicles, infrastructure, and all the things around and in the vehicle change, we maintain our leadership in engineering, research, and design. Today, the two primary things are electrification and digitalization, so we need to focus on the high-tech talent to work on these, while making sure our factories become factories 4.0. From this advanced manufacturing standpoint, there are other things that are critical to focus on. For example, policy. We have to make sure we have the right policy, state and federal, in place as it pertains to the industry. The industry is working hard on all this because we don’t take the position that we’ve earned over 100-plus years lightly.

Ancor: With so much going on in the industry right now, automation, digitalization, connectivity, what excites you the most and why? 

Glenn: I think from a technology standpoint, it’s fascinating. What we’re seeing with the change in the propulsion system, it’s not just electrification, because there’s a lot of activity in fuel-cell development too. I think the opportunities these technology shifts provide are tremendously interesting – it really gives me cause for optimism. In this industry, when we look to acquire talent or deploy technologies, we’re trying to solve global problems, unlike back in the day when the industry was viewed as contributing to global problems. Today if you look at climate – safety, sustainability, road congestion issues, the industry is trying to solve these problems. That’s really exciting!

Ancor: Automakers are going full speed ahead in EV development, but consumers don’t seem to be quite sold on the idea. Where do you think that disconnect is?

Glenn: I think there’s a couple ways to look at it. First, the average cost of an electric vehicle is $66,000 – that’s not accessible to the average consumer. So, I think it’s hard for somebody to say, “Yeah, I can see myself in that vehicle.” In addition to cost, there are a lot of other factors. For example, we’re used to seeing a gas station on every other corner. But we’re being told that with EVs, we’ll have a charger, 80% of which will be in the home. So, there will most likely be a home charger and then an infrastructure of chargers around us. It’s a pretty complex supply chain for bringing these things to mass market and for people to understand.

There’s also a bit of a disconnect when it comes to consumer adoption, infrastructure and what the OEMs announce, but that’s always the case. OEMs announce plans because that’s the nature of the competitive forces that they’re up against. But over time it will start to come together. For example, when the supply chain evolves, battery costs come down, vehicle pricing comes down, infrastructure is in place, etc. Consumers will start to understand that it’s not that complicated and realize they don’t need to worry about going 400 miles because that’s not their normal driving routine.

In the end, it’s a very complex issue. There is a disconnect, but we’re kind of in the wild, wild west phase of a lot of this right now – a lot of things are going to shake out.

Ancor: Workforce, current and future, is a big topic. What do we need to do, or what is the state or MICHauto doing, to attract people to our industry?

Glenn: The number one thing we’re focused on right now is the human capital supply chain for the industry, making sure Michigan citizens of all ages know there’s opportunity in an industry that’s growing, changing, evolving, and solving global issues. In our focus, we’re taking a holistic look. We’re involved in one way or another on things like immigration reform, because we need more new Americans to work in our industry, country and state. Then there’s reskilling and upskilling of current employees as jobs change with digitization and such. We’re also focused on getting people, including younger people, interested in the industry.

Then there’s other, bigger issues like affordable housing and childcare – we’re actively involved in those issues too. Typically, we wouldn’t be involved in these, but they are such a big part of the talent equation that we must make sure we have a voice and the right policies being put in place to address them and ensure Michigan is a welcoming place. We want Michigan to be, and be known as, a place with strong communities where you can make a living in an industry that’s growing and exciting.

Ancor: It’s a lot to accomplish – how do you see the industry succeeding?

Glenn: It’s going to take all of us to accomplish what we need to do as an industry. I’m talking companies of all sizes, schools, community colleges and universities, politicians – all the stakeholders. One of the things we are proud of at MICHauto is we don’t have typical members. We have investors from a variety of different stakeholder groups. This is intentional because we want all the voices to be part of the single voice that represents the industry and where it’s going.

View the original post. 

Panel: Shaping Talent and Workforce Development on the Road to Electrification

Anne Pentika, talent development liaison at the State of Michigan, Ben Cruz, director of the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology at Macomb Community College, and Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto, gathered at the 2022 North American International Auto Show to discuss Michigan’s evolving workforce development needs on a panel hosted by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

The Need to Dual Skill the Workforce

The panel’s moderator, Brett Smith, director of technology at CAR, opened the conversation by asking where the region currently stands in the transition into a high-skilled, electrified workforce.

Stevens answered, “the fact is, there is a lot being done, but we are a long way from where we need to be.” He is encouraged that there are plenty of resources and organizations focused on solving the problem but emphasized that the key to success will be ensuring they all remain on the same page.

Pentika shared that the state is looking at developing a workforce with dual skillsets because while we still need skills in maintaining ICE technology that already exists, the industry is moving forward into high-tech and electrified innovation. Therefore, partnering with educational institutions to upskill or reskill employees into other opportunities will become increasingly necessary.

Cruz confirmed that ICE technology will eventually fade out, but that it will remain relevant for many years to come. To address this, Macomb Community College developed a certificate program that can be completed on its own or added to a larger automotive technology course and give students the new skills employers are seeking.

Collaboration is Key

Another initiative striving to address the state’s workforce development needs is the EV Jobs Academy, in which MICHauto, the State of Michigan, and Macomb Community College all participate. According to Pentika, the program led by the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA), the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN), and the Michigan Alliance for Greater Mobility Advancement (MAGMA) “puts employers in the driver’s seat in building talent pipelines into the mobility and EV industries.”

“By forming this collaborative, we’ve got the state, employers, and educational providers all talking so we can co-develop some of the curriculum that you need in order to train the technicians,” said Cruz.

Smith directed his next question to Stevens, inquiring how he manages to focus and connect large partnerships such as this in a way that moves the initiative forward. Stevens highlighted several similar projects in the area that have recently received funding, saying that MICHauto is convening those entities to create synergy and ensure no duplication in their efforts.

How do companies, especially smaller ones with fewer resources, take advantage of the change and opportunity abounding in the industry?

“The state has an opportunity to find better ways to communicate how they get involved,” said Stevens, “there’s a lot of money available that companies on the smaller end don’t know how to access.”

“They can accomplish so much more when harnessing the power of collaboration,” Pentika agreed.

Changing the Perception of the Industry

“At the end of the day, the industry is solving global issues, not contributing to them,” said Stevens when asked what will attract talent to work in Michigan. For those interested in being part of the solution, companies like General Motors, which has a “zero, zero, zero” mantra regarding emissions, could be a good fit.

The industry is also much more stable, disciplined, and future-focused than in 2008. Factories are cleaner and safer, too. Cruz pointed out that skilled-trades jobs also have the potential to pay as well as engineering jobs.

Pentika likened the Auto Show to the MiCareerQuest program, which hosts events where students are introduced to “things they can move, touch, and see in action.” She expressed that hands-on experience will be critical in changing the industry’s perception and getting families, communities, schools, and educators moving in the same direction.

The Intersection of the Production and IT workforces

As the industry transitions from ICE to BEV, factory production staff will need to gain IT skills, and experienced IT staff will need to become familiar with factories to effectively develop and implement their technological needs. With an abundance of vehicle product development companies, Michigan’s industry requires new skills faster than the rest of the nation.

To address this, Cruz said that at Macomb Community College, “we are trying to blend skills from those different siloes, because the universities and colleges teach mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and IT, but never the three shall meet.”

Stevens added, “if we’re not from the factory, to the design, to all the industries, looking at the digital proficiency of our citizens here in Michigan, we’re going to have a problem,” because according to the Brookings Institution, almost every job will require an increase in digital proficiency moving forward.

Adapting and Learning Quickly is the Most Important Skill

Smith offered the team at CAR has spent decades questioning if it’s more important for the education system to teach students how to learn or teach them the hard skills for a job site. Cruz answered that with one or two years between major innovations, it’s difficult to predict the future, so individuals who can adapt and adopt new technologies quickly will have the most success.

Stevens offered that Michigan itself must also adapt quickly by making Michigan a strong place to live, work, and play to attract remote high-tech talent that can work from anywhere and give talent that is already present the opportunity to remain.

Let it Rip with Roop Raj: Michigan Auto Jobs and the Electric Vehicle Agenda

Let it Rip – WJBK-TV
Roop Raj
Sept. 15, 2022

In part 1, the Detroit Auto Show-themed program looks at investments by the state to encourage Big 3 jobs. In part 2, is the push for electric vehicles being forced too quick with the infrastructure?

Watch MICHauto’s Glenn Stevens Jr. contribute to these important conversations below.

View the original post.

Gongwer’s Zachary Gorchow Shares 2022 Midterm Predictions with MICHauto Advocacy Committee

On Sept. 14, Zachary Gorchow, executive editor and publisher of Gongwer News Service Michigan, joined the MICHauto Advocacy Committee meeting to share valuable insight and his predictions regarding the 2022 Michigan midterm elections.

Gorchow began his presentation by describing this midterm election season as “unusual and interesting” – terms he said he wouldn’t have used at the beginning of 2022.


Unique Factors for Democratic Party Might Help Even the Scale, But Not Tip It

Historically, the Michigan Republican Party is incredibly successful during midterms because of a few factors, especially the generally low turnouts of Democratic and other left-leaning voters. But Gorchow said in these past few months, some unique factors may slightly change the tone, including the incumbent political alignments, the state’s redistricting, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Further, Gorchow believes social issues, especially the Dobbs decision, will also help get the Democratic Party “out of that malaise” and increase their voter turnout rate.

However, he still believes these specific indications will only create a much more “neutral environment” rather than a complete Republican sweep like in years past.


Whitmer is A Likely Win in Gubernatorial Race

Gorchow said Gov. Whitmer has an advantage because of how she’s “repositioned herself back in the middle, after being a central-left leaning position” when she first got elected.

Gorchow detailed a “tough” season for the Michigan Republican Party, such as their struggle to pick a strong gubernatorial candidate before landing on Tudor Dixon this summer. Further, he said Dixon seems to be the least funded candidate within the twenty years he’s been involved with Gongwer, plus there hasn’t been any TV campaigning for her.

Therefore, Gorchow believes Whitmer will take the victory this November—not by any landslide, but “it doesn’t look like she’ll need to sweat it out.”


Democrats Have Marginal Lead in the Senate

Transitioning the conversation to Michigan Senate, Gorchow again mentioned how much Michigan is a “jump ball for control” because of the redistricting, which gives both parties a guaranteed 15 seats each, with eight seats up for grabs.

According to Gorchow, Democrats currently have a slight advantage with 19 seats and need at least two more seats to solidify their majority. Republicans are not far behind, however, as they need at least three seats to take control.

He suggested Republicans should focus on its candidates in Bay City, Macomb, Oakland, and Saginaw counties the most to increase their majority.


Republicans Have Slight Advantage in the House

The redistricting of Michigan’s House also created a very competitive playing field for the parties, who are both looking to be the 56-seat majority. According to Gorchow, Republicans currently have the advantage at 46.

But because he says 29 seats are genuinely undecided, there’s an opportunity for Democrats to catch up if Republicans aren’t careful.

Gorchow believes the Democratic Party will need to primarily focus on their candidates in Kent, Oakland, Macomb, and southern Wayne counties to gain the 19 seats they need for a majority.


Get More Advantages by Investing in MICHauto

MICHauto represents the needs of its members and investors to the local, state, and federal governments to support and inform policies that support the industry’s growth. MICHauto investors have exclusive opportunities to frequently meet with and learn from Michigan legislation experts and leaders. Learn more about investing in MICHauto here.


Glenn Stevens Jr. Talks MI Future Mobility Plan, Michigan Economy, NAIAS Future

Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OMFE) announced its MI Future Mobility Plan during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) industry preview days. The plan is a comprehensive strategy that addresses future mobility challenges by growing the mobility workforce, providing more accessible transportation infrastructure, and developing innovative mobility policies.

Following the announcement was a panel discussion on the state’s mobility strategy and a unified approach to strengthen Michigan’s economy and enhance statewide communities through responsive policy, dynamic programming, and more.

Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives at the Detroit Regional Chamber, joined the discussion on the NAIAS Antrim Stage with moderator Trevor Pawl, chief mobility officer for the State of Michigan, along with:

  • Tremaine Phillips, Commissioner, Michigan Public Service Commission
  • Emily Frascaroli, Global Director, Automotive Safety Office, Ford Motor Company


Mobility Plan Will Set State Goal of Two Million EVs by 2030

Kicking off the conversation, Pawl asked Phillips to explain the plan’s importance and how to bridge the gap between economic development and the communities it affects. Phillips explained the state’s Healthy Climate Plan was related to this Mobility Plan, which aims to “build out the full value of vehicle electrification for Michigan residents.”

“Building out the necessary infrastructure for two million EVs by 2030 is a tremendous, ambitious effort. This plan really sets forth that pathway for us to reach that end goal,” Phillips said. “Vehicle electrification can provide energy resilience for communities and households. It has the ability to put downward pressure on electricity grids… [and] provides the ability for us to mitigate climate change and create healthier, more breathable air, especially for those communities that have been historically most harmed by environmental injustice.”

Talent and Collaboration are Key to Success

Next, Stevens was asked about how Michigan can seize the opportunity to gain more mobility jobs and harness valuable talent. He shared that nothing in the plan is “relevant” without talent and acknowledged Michigan’s population and migration flow challenges.

“I’m encouraged by the things I’m seeing already. There’s already tremendous collaboration [between companies in Michigan and MEDC] because they’re all having talent conversations,” he said. “[In the MI Future Mobility Plan,] there are pillars, tactics, and objectives to make sure people have opportunities for the future.”

Phillips agreed, adding “it has the potential for us to be able to change the lives of families, households, communities, and generations. It’s always something of this pillar of the plan that’s so important and critical.”

Everyone Plays a Critical Role in Safer Roads, Travel

When asked about safety as a role in infrastructure, vehicles, and other forms of mobility, Frascaroli stressed the importance of automotive manufacturers, infrastructure, and drivers all working together to create better solutions.

“The latest data we’ve seen shows that traffic fatalities are increasing at a relatively larger pace, so the topic of road safety is really important,” she said. “There are connected, automated technologies that have a lot of potential for safety. But they can’t deliver that all on their own. We have to work together on all of the holistic pieces of the transportation system to help get those fatality numbers down.”

Utilize the Power of Leading Automotive Research and Development in the Nation

Pawl noted that Michigan has the highest ranking in automotive research and development in the nation, which “doesn’t make sense” considering its otherwise average rankings in other categories, like startups. Stevens said talent and funding could be solid solutions to how the state can “harness” the power that comes with this type of ranking.

“It’s clear that talent and innovation goes hand-in-hand. There has to be an environment where the companies can thrive,” Stevens said, using the Ford Central Station, TechTown, and future startups in Northern Michigan as examples. “People have to feel like funding will flow too. Funders will be where the ecosystems are strong. I think we’re moving in the right direction. But [talent] will come if the funding is here and if the innovators can consume that technology too.”

Michigan’s Unmentioned Top Competitive Advantages

When asked about Michigan’s more underrated competitive advantages, Phillips shared that Michigan will be “ground zero” in workforce transitioning, citing the current clean energy transition. Frascaroli agreed, citing how the University of Michigan students she teaches are now concerned about making the world better through tech more than ever before.

Detroit Auto Show, 18 Years From Now

In closing, Pawl asked the panel what the Detroit Auto Show will look like in 2040 – if the industry and state “get the next 18 years right.” Phillips theorized it “could be a connected smart city show, with vehicles being just an aspect” of the experience. Stevens agreed, adding how centralized vehicles will continue to be, and pressed the importance of the economy and companies evolving with the times.

“I think it’ll still have a sense of community — because it is our show — but our economy and companies have to evolve,” he said. “I think it’ll look very different, but it’ll have the same core things that have made it special for many, many years.”

View the full MI Future Mobility Plan here.