Gov. Rick Snyder gave closing remarks at the 15th Automotive Suppliers Symposium hosted by Grand Valley’s Van Andel Global Trade Center March 6 at Loosemore Auditorium.
The governor said Michigan remains the center of the auto industry with more than 60 of the country’s top auto suppliers and 375 research and development centers located in the state. “My job is to create a successful environment so our automotive industry can continue to be globally competitive,” said Snyder. “The Michigan business tax is dead and that was the dumbest tax in the U.S. We had too many regulations so we cut 1,500 of them that didn’t make sense.”
Snyder said a key to keeping young talent in the state is to do better at promoting the benefits of high-tech auto industry jobs. “One of the most important things we can do is train more people for these skilled jobs. There are more jobs available than workers to fill them,” he said.
The theme for this year’s conference is “What’s Your Global Positioning Strategy?” Keynote speakers included Nigel Francis, senior automotive adviser to the State of Michigan and senior vice president of the Automotive Industry Office at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Jay Baron, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research.
Francis said he assembled a team of experts to look at global trends and create a vision projecting 30 years forward. “We will still have big trucks, SUVs and small cars 30 years from now, but they have to be lighter and more fuel efficient,” said Francis. “Our biggest customer will still be the average American and we have to remember who that is. The average American struggles with affording the price of gasoline and the cost of buying a vehicle and we have to be sensitive to that.”
Francis said challenges for the future include technology, talent and capital.
Other speakers included:
• Mike Wall of IHS Automotive
• Steven Proctor of American Axle Manufacturing
• Peter Hungerford of ADAC Automotive
• Kevin Clay of Pridgeon & Clay
Plante and Moran was the title sponsor of the symposium. Additional event sponsors included: Chase, Warner Norcross and Judd, IHS Automotive, Morrison Industrial Equipment, The Right Place, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC), Pure Michigan, and WGVU.