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Metro Detroit looks to auto suppliers, other sectors for future job growth

Person working inside General Motors' Hamtramck plant.
John F. Martin
General Motors

GM's announcement that it will add a second shift to its Hamtramck facility is being warmly welcomed by the Detroit Economic Development Corporation.

Ken Chapa is Executive Vice President of Business Development for the group.  He says these are good-paying jobs that help boost Detroit's economy.

But Chapa says the supplier sector may hold even more promise for metro Detroit in the future.

"People want Detroit to win. They want this city to continue to be a strong part of the American culture. And you can't buy that, you can't buy marketing for that. That is just pure love for this city by this country."

"We may not be the same Motor Town that we were in the past 20, 30, 40, or 50 years," says Chapa.  "You're starting to see more of those Tier 1 suppliers come into the region.  Maybe they're American-based, maybe they're foreign-based. They want to get closer to their primary clients, to help firm up that supply chain."

Chapa believes telling the positive story of Detroit could encourage more businesses to locate here.

"I just got back from L.A. at a conference out there, and I was talking with site selectors and brokers from all over the country, and everybody wants to hear the Detroit story," says Chapa.  "They all want to hear what Detroit's up to.  And they want to hear that because people want Detroit to win."

Chapa says the region also needs to keep working on diversifying its economy, because the auto industry is still cyclical.  The booms and busts may not be as dramatic as they once were, but they're still there.

Chapa says medical devices, professional services, and aerospace are examples of industries with good potential for adding jobs in Detroit.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.