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Industry Update: West Michigan CEO Roundtable

On May 18, MICHauto in partnership with The Right Place, hosted the West Michigan CEO Roundtable to talk about key issues impacting the automotive and mobility industry.

MICHauto’s Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. and The Right Place’s President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Thelen kicked off the meeting with a highlight of the strong partnership between MICHauto and The Right Place, which values all four corners of the state.  Joined by 14 top executives, MICHauto gave an overview of the changes the state has seen in the last 14 months relative to the pandemic, electrification, and attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Key discussion points included MICHauto’s 2021 Policy Agenda and top-of-mind concerns addressed in the 38 legislative meetings hosted during MICHauto’s Capitol Conversations in April. Effects from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to result in lower-than-normal workforce numbers, with high absenteeism and decreased likelihood for some workers to return any time soon. Questions also continue to revolve around vaccine policy and expected protocol for businesses amid return-to-work.

One key point of discussion was MICHauto’s upcoming Industry Branding Campaign that will pilot in early June. While this effort may not impact today’s absenteeism challenges, the campaign’s goal is to increase awareness about automotive and mobility careers as growing, global, high-tech, and inclusive. Promoting this new narrative to retain and grow our industry workforce across the state is a series of young professionals who are passionate about their contributions in a rapidly evolving industry. The campaign is based on direct feedback from high school focus groups, including Kent Technical Career Center marketing students lead by Kirk Helferich, and will begin as a grass-roots social campaign.

Michael Robinet, executive director of IHS Markit Advisory, shared the latest market data and timing expectations for electrification. While the U.S. is seeing unprecedented levels of low inventory in the field due to the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage, 2021 is expected to signal continued broad-based recovery. Emerging in 2021 will be four new BEV platforms from GM, Lordstown, Rivian, and Tesla. It is currently projected that EVs will account for almost 55% of North American light vehicle production share by 2040.

The session wrapped up with an open discussion lead by Justine Burdette, vice president of technical services for The Right Place and regional director of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center – West, and closing remarks from Stevens and Thelen.