WARREN — A regional collaborative focused on supporting and enhancing the local defense industry is rolling out a new Web site and marketing materials, including a video, showcasing southeast Michigan’s unique attributes as the “Arsenal of Innovation.”

The group, which is composed of representatives spanning business, industry, government, military and education, and the materials are a result of an initiative led by Macomb Community College and funded by a $428,000 grant from the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.

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“Our goal was to connect southeast Michigan’s vibrant defense community in a meaningful way to leverage our existing assets and resources while building strategic partnerships that will not only sustain but take our regional defense sector to a new level,” said James O. Sawyer, vice president and provost, Macomb Community College.  Sawyer chaired the Southeast Michigan Defense Industry Strategy Taskforce, which was initially convened by Macomb College in April 2011.

The task force focused on identifying, prioritizing and developing strategies to sustain and enhance the regional defense industry, with the marketing materials an outgrowth of these activities.

The materials present an updated version of the region’s WWII “Arsenal of Democracy”  designation, highlighting the characteristics that today distinguish the region as the Arsenal of Innovation, including:
* The largest pool of engineers and technology professionals in the U.S.
* Leadership in robotics, expertise in modeling and simulation engineering
* The advanced Ground Systems Power & Energy Lab at TACOM
* A local network of more than 500 defense contractors and suppliers.

The marketing materials will be available on the group’s new Web site, www.SoutheastMichiganDefense.com.

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The Southeast Michigan Defense Industry Strategy Taskforce also developed a number of regional activities, including hosting three forums:
* A Defense Sector Human Capital Forum, June 30, 2011, which convened industry leaders and educational/workforce development partners to discuss work force development initiatives across the region
* The Defense Expo Forum, held May 16 as part of the National Defense Industrial Association Expo, which brought together local businesses with government contracting officials to discuss opportunities with the Department of Defense
* Seeing 2020: Ensuring Skills Preparedness in the Southeast Michigan Defense Sector, held June 5, a conference for defense industry human resource directors covering a variety of topics related to addressing workforce needs.

“Macomb has done the region a great service by gathering the region’s key defense industry leaders and experts to develop strategy and share ideas that benefit everyone involved,” said Eric Emerton, spokesperson for U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.

While the grant provided by the New Economy Initiative concludes at the end of August, the taskforce will continue convening through Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Michigan Defense Center, located in Sterling Heights.

“We are thankful to Macomb Community College for creating this task force and assembling the right partners over the past year to help position the region for great momentum in the defense sector,” said Ron Moffett, Michigan Defense Center. “Despite some current challenges in the defense sector, there are still some great opportunities to leverage for southeast Michigan, and our staff is excited at the opportunity to build that momentum, soliciting the necessary input to expand this group and its mission well into the future.”

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Organizations participating on the Southeast Michigan Defense Industry Strategy Taskforce are Automation Alley, BAE Systems Land Armaments, Dow Chemical Co., General  Dynamics Land Systems, Macomb Community College, Macomb County, the MEDC’s Michigan Defense Center, Nikon Metrology Inc., the Macomb OU Incubator, the National Defense Industry Association Michigan Chapter, the office of Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak), the office of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Selfridge Air National Guard Base, the Michigan Chapter of Association of United States Army, the Southeast Michigan Community College Consortium, the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, the TARDEC National Automotive Center and the Workforce Intelligence Network.