Automation Alley - Metropolitan Detroit
Automation Alley, located in Southeast Michigan, is one of the leading technology business associations in the United States. Headquartered in Troy, just outside of Detroit, Automation Alley is comprised of close to 1,000 members whose primary focus is the local and worldwide economic growth and business development of regional companies doing business in the high technology sector. Based on membership, it is in the top 10 percent of the nation's technology business associations.
Automation Alley was founded in 1998 by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, after local technology firms sought help in recruiting efforts. Faced with a shortage of trained workers to fill in-demand technology positions, growing businesses were threatening to leave Oakland County and the surrounding Southern Michigan area if the government would not assist in supporting their needs. This included promoting collaborative efforts between business leaders and government to develop, fund, and maintain entrepreneurial, educational, and workforce development initiatives.
Patterson began to realize that the financial sustainability of Southeast Michigan increasingly relied on attracting cutting-edge businesses that required hiring highly-qualified individuals. After traveling to Silicon Valley and other technology centers to learn more about the growing technology sector, its dependence human capital and the specific skills this talent needed to posses to be competitive, Patterson developed a strategy designed to market the Detroit metropolitan area as a hub of technological excellence.
Automation Alley commenced its mission in Patterson's government office. Initially, 44 members of the community joined the organization. After founding members persisted in grassroots' activities, such as going door-to-door to enlighten business owners about their vision and, subsequently, sell memberships, Automation Alley business association expanded rapidly to include commercial, educational, and government entities.
Outgrowing Patterson's office after only six years, the Automation Alley Technology Park in Troy became home to the Automation Alley headquarters in 2004, where an assortment of business seminars and workshops takes place on a regular basis. Then, in 2010, in an effort to create partnerships between businesses operating within the defense industry with those in high-tech, an outpost office of Automation Alley was opened in Sterling Heights, the center of Michigan's Defense Corridor. This satellite office explores and promotes opportunities for technology companies within the defense and manufacturing arenas.
In 2011, Automation Alley's Troy headquarters were expanded with the objective of highlighting regional businesses' growing global interests. The International Business Center (IBC) was created to aid Southern Michigan's small or medium-size companies in achieving expansion into overseas markets. In addition, the IBC works to attract international companies to the area by fostering investment opportunities, offering real estate assistance, and helping to recruit quality personnel.
Today, businesses located in the city of Detroit and eight surrounding counties benefit from being included in and branded as part of Automation Alley. By 2020, the business association hopes to achieve its global vision of making Southern Michigan the leading center for technological innovation in the U.S.
Automation Alley is comprised of the greatest number of high-tech jobs in the Midwest. There are over 7,000 technology-related businesses in the region. It is estimated that over 250,000 people work in technology-related businesses.
Close to 10 percent of technology jobs throughout Automation Alley are in the automotive industry. Over 500 businesses in the Metropolitan Detroit area are automobile-related establishments. Major employers in the region are Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.
Advanced-automotive is a sub-sector of the automotive industry that consists of occupations that focus on bringing together research and development, innovation, and information technology. Thus, Detroit leads the U.S. in architectural and engineering employment.
The life sciences sector accounts for over 10 percent, or roughly 22,000, of Detroit's technology jobs. Detroit Medical Center and Henry Ford Health System are leading employers.
Automation Alley has conducted trade missions with several international partners including Brazil, China, India and Mexico. Since initiating plans to attract foreign investment to Detroit while simultaneously infiltrating overseas markets with exports, approximately $150 million dollars in contracts have been completed, and over 730 jobs have been created.
The Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), a 30-minute drive from downtown Detroit, is the state's largest international airport. Ground transportation to the airport is available by bus and served through the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART).
The Detroit People Mover (DPM) is a light rail system that runs on an elevated, 2.9- mile track that loops through Detroit's downtown business district. It is an inexpensive, fully-automated way to move between office buildings, tourist attractions, and government facilities throughout the city.
Automation Alley is conveniently accessible to north/south interstates I-94 and I-75. The region is within a five-hour drive of Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Toronto.