Research-and-development agreement boosts state’s defense industry

Kathleen Achtenberg

Friday, June 3, 2016

Identifying economic growth potential in the state’s defense industries

Identifying economic growth potential in the state’s defense industries, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley along with the Michigan Defense Center announced “Protect and Grow,” a strategic plan based on collaboration among Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. The plan, which features a cooperative research-and-development agreement, was rollout at the 2016 Mackinac Police Conference, attended by Gov. Rick Snyder and regional business and civic leaders. The annual economic development conference was held May 31-June 3 on Mackinac Island.

“Michigan has been a leader in the defense sector for decades and the industry is a major contributor to our economy,” Calley said. “With our assets, our state is well positioned to grow new opportunities, and the ‘Protect and Grow’ plan allows us to proactively develop this important business sector.”

The plan aligns with federal Department of Defense spending planned over the next decade and the state’s existing defense industry infrastructure and resources, which has historically played a significant role in U.S. military operations. Michigan’s defense industry supports 105,000 jobs and represents an $8 billion economic impact on the state’s economy.

The Protect and Grow plan includes 17 recommendations to preserve current defense assets, missions and jobs and foster innovation:

  • Promote and safeguard acquisition, technology and logistics capabilities at the Detroit Arsenal; 
  • Invest state resources to enhance military installations and defense and homeland security missions ; 
  • Expand training ranges and opportunities;
  • Maximize the Michigan congressional delegation’s deferral influence and support for military installations; 
  • Strengthen and promote the link between defense and domestic auto and establish an autonomous vehicle corridor on I-69; 
  • Leverage partnership opportunities between academia, industry, local government and DOD/DHS entities within the state; 
  • Lead the nation in DOD/state cyber-operations integration; 
  • Secure East Coast missile defense ground-based interceptor site at the Fort Custer Training Center; 
  • Publicize the importance of the Soo Locks to national security and advocate for funding; 
  • Establish an innovation center at the Detroit Arsenal; 
  • Promote and expand economic gardening tools for Michigan companies; 
  • Target and invest resources in growth areas including aerospace, advanced manufacturing, 3-D printing and autonomous systems; 
  • Pursue opportunities and branding to lead the nation in DOD and state sponsored renewable energy solutions; 
  • Build and promote an asset database to leverage in-state testing and evaluation capabilities;
  • Study impacts and military research and development tax incentives and best practices in other states; 
  • Connect veteran talent to Michigan industries; and
  • Create new branding for the defense industry in Michigan.

“This report concludes a very obvious fact, which is that advancing and protecting Michigan’s defense capabilities and our defense industries require a bipartisan approach,” said U.S. Representative Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township.
“A principle advocacy of mine has been protecting Selfridge Air National Guard Base from BRAC, which I have done successfully over the last four decades,” said Miller. “In Macomb County, as we’ve transitioned from the Arsenal of Democracy to the Arsenal of American Innovation, we are extremely proud of the work that we’ve done to bring all of these defense contractors into our community, helping to preserve and improve Michigan’s critical role in our national defense and Homeland security.”

Steve Arwood, CEO of the MEDC, and Dr. Paul Rogers, TARDEC director, signed the cooperative research and development agreement, defining the collaboration between the two organizations, including testing and evaluating autonomous defense vehicles on I-69, transportation cyber security and next generation alternative energy development.

“Collaboration is the centerpiece of the success of this initiative and we’re proud to take the first step in implementing the Protect and Grow plan,” said Sean Carlson, director of the Michigan Defense Center. ”We thank everyone involved for their contributions, including our military members and civil servants, who put their lives on the line to protect our country.”

The plan was created through a joint process, represented by defense industry, military, economic development and academic sectors from each of Michigan’s 10 prosperity regions, and led by the Michigan Defense Center, the Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Congressional Delegation. The 17 recommendations will help identify and grow opportunities throughout the state, engaging key leaders and congressional, community, industry, association and academic stakeholders.

"With the strategic guidance of the Protect and Grow initiative, Macomb County's presence in the defense industry is growing,” said Mark Hackel, county executive for Macomb County. “Leveraging our unique regional assets in defense and automotive, we are driving technological innovation, encouraging economic development and supporting a talented workforce."

Michigan is home to seven military installations critical to national security: Detroit Arsenal; Selfridge Air National Guard Base; Battle Creek Air National Guard Base; Fort Custer; Defense Logistics Agency; Camp Grayling Joint Military Training Center; and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. These installations, along with defense contractors in the state and the state’s leadership position in the automotive and cybersecurity industries, are prime assets in retaining and attracting business opportunities in Michigan.

“It has never been more important to foster innovation in Michigan,” Arwood said. “This strategic plan is the first step to protecting our current assets, missions and jobs, and will be regularly updated as we move forward.”

Learn more about the Protect and Grow plan or Michigan’s defense industry at

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