WIN sponsored content| Crain’s Detroit Business
In his State of City speech in earlier this year, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan told us his Jobs and Economy Team led by Tom Lewand is working on ways to stimulate job growth in industries like construction, manufacturing, medicine and technology. Great plan. Great strategy. Detroit has the homegrown and incoming talent to make those industries successful.
Let’s focus on manufacturing. Our city was built on it. We are experts at it from traditional manufacturing to advanced manufacturing to craft manufacturing.
Our automakers are, of course, prime examples. They build the world’s most technologically advanced product. The skills go so much farther. For example, Shinola, the luxury watch and bicycle manufacturer, is building its products here using Detroit talent. With its stellar reputation for quality you can be sure it wouldn’t have chosen our city unless it was sure the quality would continue.
Then there’s Andra Rush, founder of Detroit Manufacturing Systems. When she opened the facility in Detroit in 2012 it was the largest manufacturing company to relocate the city in 20 years. Today, it has more than 700 workers, many of whom were previously unemployed, and continues the company to expand.
Those are just two of the 90-plus manufacturing companies in Detroit, ranging from very large to very small. There is room for more. For example, our abandon buildings present a huge opportunity. How about bringing in more companies focused on repurposing reclaimed materials from those buildings? The building Shinola now sits in, the Taubman Center, stood vacant for years before being reinvigorated as part school and part manufacturing center. Working with the Detroit Land Bank they could find a vast amount of material for reuse … perhaps for other homes and businesses.
Bringing in more manufacturing jobs to Detroit is essential. It will multiply into many more jobs.
Nationwide, each manufacturing job supports up to 4.6 other jobs, according to the University of Illinois Chicago. In some advanced manufacturing sectors, the multiplier effect can be as high as 16 to one, meaning that every manufacturing job supports 15 other jobs. So says and article called “The Multiplier Effect: There Are More Manufacturing Related Jobs Than You Think.”
There’s another plus. Manufacturing companies are more likely to introduce new and innovative products than other industries. Detroit has introduced some of the world’s most innovative products and is ready to continue to do so.
Manufacturing is also the industry that makes things for construction, medicine and technology. It is the industry that helps create jobs for the IT and business consultants Strategic Staffing Solutions provides to the healthcare, insurance, financial services and energy/utility industries.
There is a catch. Before manufacturing can reach its full potential Detroit must be able to provide the skilled workforce needed. That is being addressed. As part of the $100 million investment in Detroit JP Morgan Chase announced last week, $12.5 million is committed to better link workforce development efforts with employer needs and train Detroit residents in the skills employers need. The Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. and the Workforce Intelligence Network will identify growing economic sectors and create collaborative programs to train workers and develop career pathways for them.
One of those programs should be a robust apprentice system. Another must be a training program for those who can’t read and write. Unfortunately, that is an issue in our city.
We can address it with more programs like Reading Works, an organization of diverse leaders from the business, education, media, civic and faith communities dedicated to significantly boost adult literacy in metro Detroit. Here’s their goal. By 2020, 80 percent of the adults in metro Detroit will be functionally literate at a minimum ninth-grade level. They will have the desire to reach for higher levels of education, the ability to read and write well and the computer skills to succeed in the new economy.
We need to hold job slots for those individuals. Giving people jobs and purpose will make dramatic difference in revitalizing our neighborhoods and lowering our crime rate.
Detroit is ready to continue to do what it does best … making things. Let’s get at it.