No more bad news out of Detroit!

On Tuesday 2/5/2013, Automation Alley debuted its technology and industry report for 2012.  The report, which was prepared by Anderson Economic Group, compared the southeast technology sector of the Metro Detroit area to 14 other regions (8 in the Midwest and 6 nationally) which are considered to be top technology centers in the nation — regions like Silicon Valley, CA, Boston, MA, Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Minneapolis, MN, Pittsburgh, PA, and Dallas-Fort Worth, TX.  The report contains so much positive news about the Detroit region that it made me so proud to live, raise a family and own a business in Southeast Michigan.

I used to travel the country a lot more than I do now, and 9 times out 10 when I get asked, “where are you from?” and I answer “from Detroit,” I get the sarcastic comment, “I feel sorry for you.”  In the beginning it didn’t bother me, but the more I heard it the more I realized that we, as Detroiters, or Michiganders, are not doing our job in promoting the “good word.”  There is a lot more good coming out of Detroit than bad. But somehow the bad tends to spread faster and stick in people’s minds longer. I guess it’s human nature.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn some key points outlined in the report: compared to the 14 regions analyzed in the report, we ranked 1st in the number of people working in architectural and engineering occupations, 1st in the total number of advanced automotive industry establishments, 1st in architectural and engineering industry employment, 1st in advanced automotive sector employment,  and 1st in the number of engineering and engineering technology degrees completed at colleges and universities in the region.  Coming out of the recession in 2010 we had almost 210,000 jobs in the technology sector, second only to Chicago when compared to Midwest technology regions.  But when you consider the total population of 9.5 million in the metro Chicago area compared to the 4.6 million people in the metro Detroit area, the ranking would look better in favor of Detroit over Chicago.  When compared to all 14 regions, Detroit came fifth in total number of technology jobs, after Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston and San Jose (Silicon Valley area), respectively.  But again, if you consider the population of each one of these metropolitan areas, you can see that Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago are much larger than that of Detroit, about the same for Boston, with San Jose only having about half the population of Detroit.

The Big 3 Detroit car companies (GM, Ford and Chrysler) are all coming back.  In 2011, GM, whose destiny was in question only 4 years ago, posted a profit of $7.6 billion; the largest ever reported by the company.  Ford profits looked very good that year, as well, and Chrysler posted the first profitable year since 1997.  By the way, the US patent office recently opened its first ever satellite patent office in Detroit – not Silicon Valley, not Chicago, not Boston. Let’s stop and think why. In my opinion, Detroit is the heart of America’s innovation. For over 100 years, Detroit has been innovating and USPTO recognizes that and as a result decided to have its first satellite office right here in Detroit.
My fellow Detroiters, there is NO more bad news coming out of Detroit.  Let’s stand over the roof tops and blow our horns. Let’s tout Automation Alley’s 2012 Technology Industry Report. Let’s spread the positive word about Detroit everywhere we go.

Stand up Detroiters and be proud of what the good citizens of this region have accomplished and will continue to do so for many, many years.

Sam Abu-Hamdan

About Sam Abu-Hamdan

Alcove9 President Sam Abu-Hamdan has fulfilled consultancy and leadership roles in the design and analysis field for more than 15 years, specializing in PLM and CAD/CAM where he defined processes and best practices for global manufacturing customers. He earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in the area of error detection and recovery in automated manufacturing assembly cells.
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