(Mackinac) – At the annual Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Bill Ford Jr. presented his vision for our economic future. The Chairman of Ford Motor Co. believes Detroit and Southeastern Michigan is in a great position to become the “Silicon Valley of urban mobility”.
The number of vehicles worldwide is expected to quadruple to 4 billion over the next 30 years, and no region is better positioned to play a role in the development and manufacturing of those vehicles than Detroit. With a rich history of manufacturing, the highest per capita rate of engineers in the country and three world class research universities in the area, Southeast Michigan has more to build on than other regions.
Key points stressed by Mr. Ford include a need to eliminate the personal property tax which is seen as an impediment to industrial investment in the state, and a focus on upgrading the electrical grid which is key for manufacturing as well as residential and commercial customers. He also mentioned a desire to see improvements in the venture capital system here in Michigan, and the importance of not getting complacent just because the auto industry appears to be recovering.
Motor City Innovation Exchange
To help with these initiatives, Ford Motor Co. announced the creation of Motor City Innovation Exchange, which is expected to be a joint effort between Ford, TechShop Detroit, and TechTown – will be tasked with encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship. TechTown has close ties to nearby Wayne State University, which figures to play a large role in future development in the area. Along with University of Michigan and Michigan State they have combined to invest over $300 million into research on almost 1,500 auto-industry related products.
Another initiative being launched by Ford is the Jump Start Program which will provide work space near TechShop Detroit for entrepreneurs. They are also putting their money where their mouth is by investing almost one billion dollars into building electric vehicles and battery packs in Michigan.
This isn’t just a matter of Ford working in their self-interest either. According to Bill Ford, for every job created in the auto industry, nine jobs are created elsewhere as a result, far more than any other industry. It is estimated that over half the new jobs created last couple of years were auto industry related.