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Michigan tries to make it easier for companies to break into defense industry

110TH AIRLIFT WING/Tech. Sgt. David Eichaker
Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM
Airmen from the 110th Airlift Wing Civil Engineers Squadron, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base qualify with the M-4 rifle at the Fort Custer Training Center in 2013.

Defense is a $9 billion industry in Michigan that employs more than 100,000 people.

State officials want to grow the defense industry, and now they have a plan to do it.

Sean Carlson directs the Michigan Defense Center, an arm of the state’s economic development agency. He says it can be difficult for small- and medium-sized companies to win government contracts in the defense industry.

“They don’t have 10 people sitting around the room like a Tier 1 or a major OEM that says, 'OK everybody, here’s the 20 opportunities, which three are we going to go after? What are the tops ones? Let prioritize them,'” Carlson said.

Carlson says they’ve created a tool to help companies bid on federal defense contracts and to help cover some of the costs of writing those bids.

“We’re going to help drive you out on the lake and tell you ‘this is where they bite best in the morning and this is where they bite best in the afternoon and we’re going to try enhance your odds of being successful,'” he said.

“We want to position our state better and companies better in Michigan to get a bigger share of this work,” Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley said at a stop at GE Aviation in Grand Rapids today. He’s made similar stops in other cities, including Flint last week.

Calley says Michigan has a lot of core competencies from the auto industry and advance manufacturing sectors that “match up” to the defense industry.

The new strategic plan also calls for a missile defense ground-based interceptor at the Fort Custer Training Center in Battle Creek. It’s one of five sites under consideration by the Pentagon.

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