The state of Michigan and the Detroit region are the premier destinations for the defense and homeland security industry.

The Detroit region offers a rich defense heritage and highly skilled talent along with cutting edge technology that positions our region’s businesses with competitive advantage that is second to none. The Detroit region has more than 100-year experience innovation, design and manufacturing.

As the birthplace of the automotive industry, this is the region that put the world on wheels and completely revolutionized the way people move. During World War II, it was Detroit that accepted President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call to become the “Arsenal of Democracy,” providing the weapons and vehicles necessary for victory.

Today, as the automotive industry’s global leader, both in terms of production and R&D, it is this region that is once again driving the rapid evolution of the vehicle an its increasingly connected an automated future. Detroit is one of a few locations with demonstrated expertise in taking new ideas from concept to consumer and the ability to move automotive technology into the world of aerospace and defense.

A Defined Defense Presence

The defense and homeland security industry already recognizes Michigan as a prime location to do business. In 2017, the Detroit region was home to 3,137 businesses serving the defense industry. Together, they employ nearly 93,000, with annual average wages of $102,770. The region is poised to add an additional 8,000 defense related jobs within the next 5 years.

“To compete successfully for the next generation of programs within the U.S. defense industry, you need state-of-the-art technical facilities, the brightest engineering and research talent available and the support of your local and state-based economic development organizations. We have all those advantages here in Macomb County, in addition to being down the street from our major client [TACOM].” Peter Keating, Vice President, Communications, General Dynamics Land Systems

Defense Contracts in the Detroit Region, by county, 2016

CountyContracts (in millions)
Macomb County$1,847.0
Oakland County$225.6
Washtenaw County$118.6
Wayne County$29.0
Livingston County$24.1
Genesee County$12.0
St. Clair County$3.3
Lapeer County$0.73
Monroe County$0.49
Lenawee County$0.27
Shiawassee County$0.02

Defense Contractors in the Detroit Region, 2015

CompanyCityContracts (in millions)
General Dynamics Land SystemsSterling Heights$1,231.18
BAE SystemsSterling Heights$230.84
MTU America Inc.Novi$32.86
AvfuelAnn Arbor$26.81
PAT GD Joint Venture LLCRochester Hills$24.40
Global Fleet SalesSouthfield$18.64
Williams International Co. LLCCommerce Township$11.47
Walbridge Aldinger Co.Detroit$2.17
FutureNet Group Inc.Detroit$1.70
Pratt & Miller Engineering & Fabrication Inc.New Hudson$0.14
Source: Federal Procurement Data System

The Detroit region’s institutions of higher education partner with the private and public sectors to drive research and development, making the region a center of innovation. The Department of Defense and other federal agencies sponsor millions of dollars in defense and homeland security-related research in the state, establishing Michigan as a national leader in patents and research and development.

  • Michigan businesses were awarded 21,802 defense contracts, worth nearly $3 billion in 2016 alone, and play a vital role in meeting our nation’s defense needs. The Detroit region had more than half of those contracts, totaling more than $2.2 billion.
  • Macomb County continues to be a hub for the defense industry with more than $37.0 billion worth of Department of Defense contracts awarded to resident companies from 2000 to 2016.
  • Michigan entrepreneurs file more than 4,000 patents annually, ranking the state consistently in the top 10 for patents granted. In 2015, 5,561 patents were granted to Michigan entrepreneurs ranking the state 6th for patents granted.

“….the company decided on building the facility in Southeast Michigan for two main reasons: to help serve its customers, including its largest customer, the U.S. Army’s Tank-Automotive Command or TACOM, in nearby Warren, and to take advantage of the area’s available, highly skilled and talented workforce – many of whom were displaced from the automotive industry.” Linda Hudson, President, BAE Systems Land & Armaments (Press Release, Sept. 4, 2009)

Research Centers and Programs

Michigan is home to innovative research in advanced engineering, life sciences and small tech, which are becoming increasingly important to defense and homeland security.

Eastern Michigan University

Lawrence Technological University

Macomb Community College

  • Grants supporting training initiatives in defense and aerospace
  • Defense and Homeland Security Stakeholders Council – network to promote workforce development and job creation

Oakland Community College

Oakland University

University of Michigan

Walsh College

Wayne County Community College District

Wayne State University

“While we are in the early days of our partnership with Michigan, we love what we’ve seen and want to accelerate our growth. The exceptional number of talented, experienced professionals coupled with the state’s strong advanced technology manufacturing capabilities makes putting additional jobs here an easy decision. Growing jobs in Michigan means growth for GE. We are creating 220 additional high-tech manufacturing jobs to support growth in next generation technologies that improve the efficiency of current and future jet engines that will power commercial and military aircraft.” John Rice, Chairman, General Electric (Press Release, May 2010)

The Detroit Region’s Defense ClusterThe Detroit region is a central site for military research and development facilities and purchasing centers, providing a strategic advantage for any business or organization looking to be a player in the defense and homeland security industry. The entire country looks to Michigan for its engineering, manufacturing, and research and development talent and expertise to solve the defense industry’s toughest challenges.

TARDECLocated in the city of Warren, the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center is the nation’s laboratory for advanced automotive technology. TARDEC’s Research, Development and Engineering Command provides high-tech solutions and capabilities and serves as the lead systems integrator for manned and unmanned vehicle systems.

In the summer of 2016, a convoy of at least four TARDEC military trucks will be tested on Interstate 69, which runs from just above the capitol city of Lansing, through Flint and to the city of Port Huron. The exact route of the planned convoy is unclear, but the purpose is to test a driverless fleet. The TARDEC trucks will come equipped with road sensing and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies costing around $175,000 per vehicle. The results from this summer’s testing grounds will mark an important step in the development and use of autonomous military transports.

TACOM LCMCThe TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, headquartered in the city of Warren, is at the forefront of the Army’s transformation to a lighter, more lethal and survivable force. The command sustains and manages the Army’s investment in warfighting capacities through research, development, engineering, and advanced systems-integration for ground system and support equipment, and ensures warfighting readiness for the solider by purchasing ground combat, combat support and combat service support items from the military.

National Automotive Center TARDEC’s National Automotive Center is the department of defense and Army’s focal point for ground vehicle research and development, and sponsors collaborative efforts between industry, academia and government agencies on everything from alternative fuel research to sophisticated computer modeling of vehicle performance.

Selfridge Air National Guard Base Located in Macomb County, Selfridge is one of only two installations in the country hosting all four Department of Defense services plus the Department of Homeland Security.

PTACThe mission of the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) of Michigan is to enhance national defense and economic development by assisting Michigan
businesses in obtaining federal, state and local government contracts.

Michigan Defense CenterThe Michigan Defense Center works in concert with the 12 state PTACs to help Michigan companies secure federal contracts. It is focused on increasing the number of prime contracts awarded by the department of defense to Michigan companies and identifying opportunities to compete as supply chain clusters.

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