Auto Supplier Makes Big Commitment to Detroit

TRAVERSE CITY — (WWJ) Auto supplier American Axle is planning to open a new Advanced Technical Center in Detroit.

The company making the announcement at the start of the annual Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.

While many car makers have technical centers in the Detroit area, CEO David Dauch says they chose to locate this in the city of Detroit, in hopes that other suppliers and car makers will follow suit.

“There’s a lot of great things going on in the City of Detroit right now,” he said. “With what Dan Gilbert’s been doing with downtown Detroit attracting jobs to Detroit, with what the Ilitch family has recently done with respect to the new facility and the community development activities, we want to do a similar thing from an engineering and manufacturing standpoint.”

American Axle closed its Detroit manufacturing operations after a bitter 2008 strike. Dauch says he’d still like to see manufacturing resume at part of the site, whether it’s from his company or another one. He said there are no current plans in the work.

But, says Dauch, it’s important for the industry as a whole to support the growth of manufacturing in Detroit.

“That’s what it needs, jobs. It needs revenue generating, tax creating opportunities that can sustain the city going forward, and help the state going forward.”

The Advanced Technical Center, Dauch says, will also bring help train the workers of the future. A continuing theme of the conference is the shortage of qualified people to work in the manufacturing field.

“If there’s anybody, who’s sixty five in the audience, who thinks they’re retiring this year, I say just forget it,” said Nigel Francis, who heads the Automotive Industry Office for the state of Michigan.

Francis outlined an effort to get more young people interested in working in the auto industry. But, he said, just as important, it’s important to bring people people who left the state during the recent downturn.

“Every one of us, I’m sure, has got a friend who left Michigan. We’ve got to get them back, because we need them.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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