Economic Development, Government, and Manufacturing

Gov. Snyder hails automotive West Coast

March 7, 2014
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Gov. Snyder hails automotive West Coast
Governor Rick Snyder. Courtesy GVSU

Governor Rick Snyder thinks auto-industry talent should move to the West Coast.

Michigan’s West Coast that is.

Snyder offered up the closing remarks yesterday at the 15th annual Automotive Suppliers Symposium in Grand Rapids at GVSU.

During his remarks, he highlighted that Michigan remains the center of the auto industry and has a vast supply of quality job opportunities.

A high-tech industry

Snyder acknowledged that the bad press the auto industry has received has sent the message that the industry is not the place to be, and parents are more likely to encourage their kids to look toward Silicon Valley for tech jobs.

Yet, he said, while it might seem like the country’s West Coast has the market cornered when it comes to tech jobs and quality of life, West Michigan has both of those traits in spades.

“The West Coast should be Lake Michigan, folks,” Snyder said. “We’ve got to get louder and prouder about who we are.

“If you look at the auto industry today, it’s one of the most high-tech fields there is. I put it near the top. We need to market the industry as a great career opportunity.”

Snyder said that 365 automotive research and development centers are in the state. Those centers account for about 75 percent of the auto industry’s R&D in the U.S.

“So when the ideas are being born, most likely they are being born here,” Snyder said.

Jobs center

Snyder added that 61 of North America’s top 100 auto suppliers are headquartered in Michigan.

He said that marketing automotive manufacturing jobs and the state’s quality of life will be key to attracting and retaining the talent necessary to support the once-again-vibrant auto industry.

“These are great jobs, and the point is how many parents and kids know about them?” Snyder said.

Snyder also highlighted two programs aimed at introducing young people to careers in the auto industry: the Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program, which is modeled on Germany’s popular worker-apprenticeship program, and First Robotics, a national robotics competition that pits teams of students against one another to solve a real-life problem by creating a robot.

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