Automation Alley's Technology Industry Report: 2011 Edition

With the Great Recession officially in the rear-view mirror, growth and economic advancement are at the top of the agenda for policy and business leaders. Planning for and pursuing such growth and advancement requires taking stock of current conditions, which is what this report does for the technology sector in Southeast Michigan.

This report provides a careful assessment of employment and industry data for the technology sector in Southeast Michigan. The data offer benchmarks of the size and nature of the region’s
technology sector relative to other metropolitan areas across the United States. These data provide measures that can be reviewed over time to assess the evolution of the technology sector in the region. They also illustrate opportunities for economic growth and advancement in Metro Detroit today.

The technology sector of the economy can be viewed as consisting of businesses that have a technical orientation and workers who have technical occupations. The businesses together form an industry, while the workers together form a workforce. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics are used in this study to assess both the industry and workforce components of the technology sector. Measures of the sector across metropolitan areas are also included to provide context to the data for Greater Detroit.

Michigan Unplugged? The Case for Shared Investment in Regional Transmission Projects

Electricity transmission facilities are major investments. They have traditionally been funded by local utilities, with costs allocated across the local users. Improving the grid, however, requires more than a patchwork of locally planned and funded improvements. In the Midwest and other areas of the country, states, utilities, and other stakeholders have agreed to pursue a regional approach to plan and build a more robust grid. As a result, many new transmission projects are now designed to benefit large geographic areas.

Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (MISO)—an independent, non-for-profit corporation of grid stakeholders in the Midwest—is responsible for managing and planning this region’s grid. In early 2009, MISO began developing a new cost allocation method to be used specifically for regionally beneficial transmission projects. The approved cost allocation method assigns costs based on load (actual use of electricity), and applies only to a new category of projects called “Multi-Value Projects” (MVPs).

The MISO cost allocation for MVPs, which FERC found to be consistent with the “beneficiary pays” cost allocation principle, is now being challenged by parties that feel it does not assign costs in a way that is commensurate with benefits.

In this report, we assess whether or not the MVP cost allocation methodology is consistent with the legal principle that costs should be “at least roughly commensurate with benefits.” We also consider whether there is any evidence that the approved methodology places an unfair cost burden on Lower Michigan. Finally, we assess the risks and consequences that stem from modifying the structure of the already adopted cost allocation.

Residential and Retail Market Strategy: Downtown Sandusky, Ohio Waterfront District

 

Sandusky Main Street and the City of Sandusky contracted Anderson Economic Group (AEG) to develop a strategic plan to enhance its historic downtown which is situated along Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie.

To assess public concerns, habits, and preferences, AEG conducted an on-line survey and met with key project and district stakeholders. The on-line survey, which was promoted in the local newspaper and on stakeholder websites, received over 350 responses. After evaluating the survey and stakeholder responses, AEG analyzed market characteristics of Sandusky and Erie County (including the area’s demographic and socioeconomic profile), and the retail composition, spending behavior of its residents, and the implied opportunities for growth and expansion of specific retail categories. Through a supply – demand analysis, primary data analysis, market assessment, and interviews with local realtors, we also determined the number of residential units – both owner occupied and rental – at specific price ranges the local market could support.

Results from each of these analyses provided insight into the unique opportunities for future growth, and strategies the community can use to achieve their vision. AEG completed this project with strategies and specific recommendations for increasing residential use and diversifying the retail and entertainment offerings in the district. We provided the Sandusky Main Street with our analysis, key findings, and recommendations in a loose-bound report, complete with executive summary and appendices. Included in the appendices are detailed results from the public outreach process, demographic and socioeconomic analysis, several custom maps, methodology, and complete findings from the residential and retail supply-demand analyses. As a final task, we made presentations of our findings and the strategy to both the Main Street Organization and the Sandusky City Commission. 

 

Automotive Dealership Arbitrations: Seventy-three General Motors and Chrysler Dealerships

Following the termination of over 1,000 dealerships by General Motors and nearly 800 by Chrysler, federal legislation (HR 3288, Sec 747) was introduced to provide a procedure for the review of the termination decisions. The bill, signed into law on December 16 of 2009, established criteria for the arbitration process, which was organized through the American Arbitration Association. Among the criteria that arbitrators were to consider were the dealership’s profitability, economic viability, market territory, sales performance metrics, and the manufacturer’s business plan.

Seventy-three of the dealerships that pursued arbitration retained Anderson Economic Group for expert analysis in the areas of demography, geography, sales performance analysis, economic viability, and financial analyses. These dealers were located across 23 different states. Fifty-five were General Motors dealerships, and 18 were Chrysler dealerships.

We worked with each dealership to develop a plan of work that focused on the critical elements of their case. These included geographic and demographic assessments to determine if trade area’s were properly assigned, and if performance metrics accurately accounted for local market conditions. In a number of cases we also provided financial analyses to measure the economic viability of a dealership from a profitability standpoint, and to benchmark historic financial performance against an industry average. We also assessed the overall industry structure, economic conditions, and the business plans that manufacturer’s cited as reasons to support dealership terminations. In doing so we were able to illustrate inconsistencies in their positions, and demonstrate that, in many instances, the termination of dealerships was actually harmful to the manufacturer’s economic interests. We also provided consultation regarding settlement and hearing strategies, as well as rebuttal to opposing expert analyses.

Our analyses were used by dealerships to evaluate the strength of their case, to negotiate favorable settlements prior to arbitration, and in 19 cases our experts presented findings before an arbitrator. By the end of the arbitration process more than 90 percent of our clients had received favorable financial settlements, or had been reinstated as dealerships.

The Likely Economic Impact of a Chicago 2016 Summer Olympics

Anderson Economic Group, LLC, is an economic consulting firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois; East Lansing, Michigan; and Los Angeles, California. We have prepared this independent analysis of the likely economic impact of the proposed 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago, and are making it publicly available before the IOC announcement date of October 2, 2009.

We are preparing this study to provide other Chicago-area businesses, as well as taxpayers and policymakers, a realistic assessment of the actual costs and benefits of hosting the games. Our analysis of past major events, and our past evaluations of the value of sports-related and other businesses, gives us a unique position to carefully examine this question.

Boosters of large sporting events and stadium construction have sometimes claimed economic benefits that later proved far too good to be true. However, our analyses of both sports franchises, and cities in which sporting teams oper-ate, show that some events can provide economic benefits that far exceed the costs. Given the scale of the Olympics, and the exposure it would give to Chi-cago on a world stage, it is certainly worth carefully considering the costs, risks, and benefits.

We have used a rigorous methodology to estimate the likelly economic impact of events like the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The URC's Support for Advanced Manufacturing in Michigan

Manufacturing is embedded in our state’s history, and in our national consciousness, as the engine of economic growth for much of the 20th century. Michigan was the “arsenal of democracy” in World War II, where Henry Ford’s revolutionary wages brought immigrants from numerous countries, and where companies like General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford grew into global enterprises.

Michigan is also the place that, far too often, is saddled with a reputation for being very good at something that is no longer relevant, modern, or particularly useful in the 21st century. In particular, we suffer from the misguided notion that manufacturing is not a “high tech” or high-value-added enterprise. This report provides, in great detail, hard evidence that manufacturing is alive and vital in Michigan today, and that much of the manufacturing done in Michigan today is high-tech, high-productivity advanced manufacturing.

Indeed, there are numerous places in the world where low-tech manufacturing can take place, often where labor and other costs are much lower than in the United States. Manufacturers in Michigan, therefore, must produce high-quality products using high-productivity techniques, and advanced technologies. As we note in this report, advanced manufacturing in Michigan is:

  • An important industry that employs over 10% of the state’s workforce;
  • A productive industry where over half of the employment is in firms whose productivity is growing faster than the average U.S. manufacturing firm;
  • A highly-skilled industry where over one-third of the research and testing jobs in the Midwest are located. 

 

Auto Dealership Performance Assessment and Termination Criteria: Michigan Cadillac Dealership

In response to a notice of termination and  sales performance review from General Motors and ChannelVantage, a Michigan Cadillac dealership retained Anderson Economic Group (AEG) to provide an independent analysis for the dealership. The analysis specifically focused on 1) the factory’s assigned sales and service area, and 2) the methodology used to calculate the dealership’s Retail Sales Index (RSI).

To begin, we reviewed GM’s sales performance calculations and the methodology used by ChannelVantage to arrive at the dealership’s RSI score. Our Geographic Information System (GIS) was utilized to plot the location of the dealerships, its assigned Area of Geographic Sales and Service Advantage (AGSSA), nearby Cadillac dealers, and a ten-minute drive-time area from each dealer. The latter helped to identify census tracts within our client’s AGSSA that were more naturally and/or easily served by another dealer. Measuring the drive-time distances from each of center of these census tracts’ to nearby dealers aided in our revision of the assigned AGSSA. We next analyzed the demographics from the assigned AGSSA and the revised AGSSA, with a focus on variables that correlate with luxury vehicle sales, such as education levels, age, and income. We adjusted the RSI to account for our revisions to the AGSSA based on the reduction in the targeted demographic base, and a reduction in expected market share capture for the vehicle segment.

Our findings illustrated that our client had an unreasonably large market area, including over 20 census tracts that were located closer to other Cadillac dealerships. We also accounted for local demographics and customer behavior, as opposed to broad reaching assumptions based on state-level data, to estimate expected sales levels in the market. With these adjustments, we arrived at a significantly higher RSI relative to what GM determined, and used as a primary factor in termination the dealership. We compiled these findings in a report for the client, which he has shared with members of Congress while lobbying for passage of the Durbin-Hoyer bill that was enacted, and allows all terminated dealership a chance at arbitration.

An Auto Dealer's Guide to Arbitration

This guide is for dealers that are considering participating in the arbitration process established by H.R. 3288, which was signed in to law by President Obama on December 16, 2009. It reviews the timeline and arbitration process, and the criteria that will be considered by the arbitrator. It concludes with some practical steps dealers should take as they consider whether to participate in the arbitration process.

Luxury Vehicle Dealership Site Selection: Detroit, Michigan Area Dealership Group

As part of its dealership restructuring efforts, one of the Detroit Three invited current dealers to submit proposals for a new luxury vehicle dealership in suburban Detroit. Our client, a large dealership group in the Detroit area, retained us to assist in evaluating the OEM’s preferred site and an alternate site that was believed to be better positioned in the market.

We began with an assessment of the current dealer network in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. This included a drive-time analysis to assess market coverage, both for the current structure and for the structure after the known dealerships closing. We next identified the most likely site for a new dealership in the OEM preferred area and our client’s preferred area, and delineated a market area for each, accounting for drive-times, infrastructure networks, natural barriers, and the market areas for existing dealerships. A demographic and socio-economic analysis was done for each trade area, focusing on variables that predict the success of luxury automobile dealerships. We also analyzed luxury vehicle registration data from RL Polk to measure historic vehicle purchase patterns in each market. Lastly, we considered site specific factors, such as visibility, traffic count data, and proximity to other luxury vehicle dealerships.

Our final results were summarized in a memorandum and presentation to the client, and found the client preferred site to be a much stronger location. Our deliverable  included summary data tables and custom maps showing market areas, demographics, and luxury vehicle registrations. The memorandum and presentation was included by our client in their proposal to the OEM.

Market Snapshot-Demographic and Socioeconomic Analysis: Main Street Newnan, Georgia

Anderson Economic Group completed a market snapshot for the Main Street Newnan organization in Georgia, located southwest of Atlanta. The purpose of providing Newnan Main Street with the market snapshot was to help bolster the organization’s plans for attracting and recruiting business, and to uncover potential strengths and opportunities in the downtown.

We worked with Main Street Newnan to determine the downtown’s center of market activity and its likely primary and secondary market areas in terms of drive-time distances. We next used our Geographic Information System (GIS) to plot the location and delineate the drive-time boundaries on a map. To provide a visual display of key data in the community, we customized maps to display the current year per capita income and population density, and projected percent population change, all at the block group level.

The primary and secondary market areas and the county were further analyzed to provide a detailed understanding of Newnan’s demographic and socioeconomic make-up for the current year and projected trends over the following five years. Relevant categories, including age, income, households, education attainment, and consumer expenditures were detailed in a table and summarized in a narrative to explain the trends and key points.

The market snapshot product is being used by Newnan Main Street in their business and other attraction efforts.