New Study Shows Michigan Has 2,200 Auto R&D Centers – Also Shows Young People Outside State Don’t View Michigan As Innovation Center

DETROIT  – On Wednesday, MICHauto, an economic development initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber, published a new study that reveals more than 2,200 automotive research, design, engineering, testing and validation facilities are in Michigan – up from 375, cited previously.

Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah, in an interview, said he wasn’t sure where the old figure came from, one of the reasons why the study was conducted. This news will be highlighted Wednesday during the MICHauto Summit at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

“The new data point provides a clear understanding of the true automotive technical ecosystem in our state and definitively concludes that Michigan is the epicenter of mobility innovation,” said Baruah. “Michigan leads the nation in automotive ‘concept to consumer’ expertise.”

The study used a list of more than 5,000 records verified through the Detroit Regional Chamber’s research team. Secondary research was completed when necessary, through job postings, LinkedIn profiles, or other third-party research sources, such as announced opening/closings, WARN notices, expansions, and incentive locations. The data does not include companies solely dedicated to defense or aerospace; however, if a company serves both automotive and aerospace/defense, it was included.

“The findings point to an industry that is growing and further underscores the critical need for talent development in automotive and mobility technology to support the needs of today and the future,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director for MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Chamber.

But a second study to be released Wednesday at the summit shows perceptions among young people of Michigan as a hub for innovation lag behind these economic realities. Meaning Michigan needs to work harder to change its Rust Belt image among the technology professionals the state so desperately needs to retain and recruit to fill the tens of thousands of STEM job openings in Michigan.

Key findings from this second study include:

• Zero percent of youth outside of Michigan believe Detroit is leading the way in autonomous/driverless vehicle testing and development, while only 2 percent believe Michigan is leading the way.

• 61 percent of Michigan influencers and 67 percent of influencers outside of Michigan named California the No. 1 state for innovative companies.

The survey, made possible by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., gathered feedback from 900 respondents, consisting of youth (ages 17-24) and adult influencers both inside and outside of Michigan. Influencers were defined as parents with kids ages 12-17, adults in leadership roles of youth organizations, high school and college-level educators, career counselors and academic advisors. Some 117 students will be attending Wednesday’s summit.

Among this survey’s key findings:

  • 53 percent of Michigan youth indicated that they would consider a career in the industry, an increase of 14 percent from 2014.
  • Perception that the automotive industry is “growing with opportunity and advancement in manufacturing, skilled trades, and for those with advanced degrees” is rising among youth (68 percent) and influencers (71 percent), an increase of 12 percent and 19 percent respectively.
  • 42 percent of influencers are very likely to recommend a career in automotive, compared to 23 percent in 2014.
  • When describing the automotive industry, the fourth most associated phrase among influencers was “innovative.” In 2014, it was “dead and/or declining.”
  • When answering the question, “Which areas in the U.S. do you feel have attractive career opportunities for young adults?” Nearly half of Michigan youth (46 percent) believe that Ann Arbor has attractive career opportunities, followed by Detroit (36 percent). However, outside of Michigan, only 4 percent of youth cite Ann Arbor and 6 percent cite Detroit.
  • Salary and benefits remain a top answer among youth who would consider a career in automotive, followed by flexible hours and positive reputation.

An executive summary of the survey can be downloaded at

To help tell the Detroit region’s mobility story to the world, MICHauto and the Chamber, in partnership with the city of Detroit, Macomb and Oakland counties, Ann Arbor SPARK and MEDC’s PlanetM, will launch an online publication and monthly newsletter later this month.

To be unveiled at the Summit, “Driven” will help frame, shape and position the narrative surrounding automobility in Southeast Michigan, offering content relating to the people, assets and companies that are establishing the region and its automotive sector, as a global leader in next-generation mobility transportation.

It will be accessible via