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.
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.
The University Research Corridor (URC) is an alliance of Michigan’s three largest academic institutions: Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University. The purpose of this alliance is to accelerate economic development in Michigan by educating students, attracting talented workers, supporting innovation, and facilitating the transfer of technology to the private sector.
In May of each year, the URC releases a report on a special topic that is important to Michigan’s economy. This summer (July 2009) marks the ten year anniversary of the founding of the Life Sciences Corridor, a collaboration among the URC universities and the Van Andel Institute, where the state committed to invest $1 billion in life sciences research and development (R&D) over a 20-year period. This report analyzes how this industry has changed since the founding of the Life Sciences Corridor, and how URC activities—research and development, education, and collaboration with private industry—support the growth of the life sciences industry.
Oakland County, Michigan, was experiencing significant new developments by healthcare and life science companies, and retained Anderson Economic Group to assess the strength of its healthcare and life science industry, and to help determine if promoting the industry through an economic development strategy would be a worthwhile effort.
To complete this assessment, we started by defining the healthcare and life science industry. The definition was composed of NAICS codes, which were assembled into eight unique industry subsectors focusing manufacturing, research, and provision of care sectors. We then analyzed employment, establishments, and payroll data for each sector, and benchmarked Oakland County with other leading counties in Michigan. We also assessed workforce and education information, including occupational patterns, educational attainment, and university programs and degrees in healthcare and life science disciplines.
After assessing the current state of the industry and workforce, we next identified current investments and projects by healthcare and life science industry stakeholders. We then conducted a more detailed analysis of selected projects, including new training programs at a regional hospital, the economic impact of building and operating a proton beam cancer-treatment facility, and the economic impact of a new medical school at Oakland University.
We concluded our analysis by projecting industry employment levels from 2006 to 2018. Our employment projection model included a trend scenario, which assumed no initiative to expand the industry beyond natural demand levels, and a potential scenario, which assumed a county-directed initiative to promote the county and leverage its healthcare and life science assets.
The findings of our analysis were included in a 75-page report, complete with detailed data tables, employment projections, and methodological notes. The findings were also presented at a September 24, 2008 press conference in Oakland County, during which our CEO Patrick L. Anderson and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson presented the findings to the media and industry stakeholders. These findings have also been used by the county to create an industry recruitment taskforce and strategy.
On December 11, 2008 the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) announced that Michigan State University was awarded a $55 million grant to build a Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). MSU’s most notable competition for the facility was the Argonne National Laboratory, located near Chicago, Illinois.