Automation Alley Releases Key Data on the State of Southeast Michigan's Technology Economy

TROY, Mich., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Automation Alley, a technology business association driving growth in Southeast Michigan's economy, today released data from its newly released Annual Technology Industry Report, prepared by the Anderson Economic Group. The report illustrates that while Automation Alley has not gone completely untouched by Michigan's struggling economy, there is hope for a brighter future, as companies are staying in Southeast Michigan and paying employees more than ever.

According to the report, from 2004 to 2005, Automation Alley experienced a 5.1 percent increase in the industry's average wage. These numbers suggest that the region is retaining, and even attracting, high-paying technology jobs. Life sciences and advanced manufacturing experienced the highest increases in wages, 6.7 percent and 6.2 percent respectively. While Automation Alley saw a 6.1 percent decline in technology industry employment, the number of establishments remained fairly steady, declining only 1.4 percent. This implies that employers continue to do business in Southeast Michigan and are in position to add staff as the economy rebounds.

"We have many programs in place today to help ease the transition from labor-intensive manufacturing to a knowledge-based technology industry -- from assisting in the commercialization of new technologies to helping small- and mid-size companies reach new global customers," said Ken Rogers , executive director, Automation Alley. "The good news is that although employers in Southeast Michigan may be cutting jobs, they are not giving up on the state. I fully expect the companies in Automation Alley will grow their staffs as the region's economy bounces back."

University Spending and Enrollment

The report highlights investment in research and development as a powerful and necessary force driving the region's technology success. The high-skilled jobs prevalent in the region require higher education, and the signs for the region are positive as enrollment in science and engineering graduate programs at Automation Alley universities remained high in 2005, which represents 77 percent of the total science and engineering graduate students in the state.

In addition, universities in the region have steadily increased their total research and development expenditures spending more than $1.05 billion in 2005, representing 72 percent of all university research and development expenditures made by Michigan universities.

"This year's report stresses the importance of our universities. In all three technology industry reports we have found Southeast Michigan's investment in university research and development exceeds $1 billion, signaling tremendous opportunity for growth in the region," said Patrick Anderson , principal and CEO, Anderson Economic Group. "The region's workforce has the know-how and the ability to diversify its industries, which is a necessary step in maintaining our leadership role in the global technology economy."

Research and development in sustainable technologies remains a focus in Automation Alley and a means for future growth. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy invited Lawrence Technological University to Washington, D.C., to compete in the Solar Decathlon. The international competition hosted student teams from 20 universities to design a completely energy self-sufficient 800-square-foot home with enough leftover power to power a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Lawrence Tech was the only university invited from Michigan and was also the smallest university to compete, further highlighting the talent pool residing in the region. The team's involvement is just one of the many signs that Southeast Michigan's future workforce possess both the interest and the ability needed to move the region forward.

Defense and Homeland Security

Data from the report highlights the region's continued diversification. Automation Alley's unique and ever-growing relationship with the U.S. military and its partners plays a critical role in expanding the region's industries. The U.S. Small Business Administration's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has pumped millions of dollars of funding into Automation Alley small businesses for research and development projects. From 2000 to 2005, small area businesses received 521 SBIR awards worth $105.7 million. Funding assisted privately-owned businesses in developing and commercializing technologies that protect our borders, allow for faster emergency response times, detect threats, and provide physical and virtual security.

Macomb County is home to a unique hub of defense and homeland security technology with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC), the U.S. Army's Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command, and Selfridge Air Nation Guard Base. Since World War II, TARDEC has maintained a presence in Detroit to tap into the area's automotive design and engineering talent. Currently, TARDEC employs over 1,200 Southeast Michigan residents and is expected to continue growing as the Department of Defense began moving the Robotic Systems Joint Program Office (RS-JPO) from Alabama to Warren, Mich., in August 2007 .

About the Technology Industry Report

The new study utilizes a rigorous definition of the technology industry based on research conducted by the U.S. Commerce Department, Anderson Economic Group and others. This definition identifies six specific technology sectors within Southeast Michigan -- advanced automotive, advanced manufacturing, chemical and material, information technology, life sciences and other technologies (including oil and gas extraction, architectural services and more).

Data from the study takes a variety of factors into account, including employment, number of private businesses, payroll, demographics, socio- economics and quality of life. A copy of the full report may be secured by visiting

About Automation Alley

Automation Alley is a technology business association driving the growth and image of Southeast Michigan's economy through a collaborative culture that focuses on workforce and business development initiatives.

Since its founding in 1999, Automation Alley has expanded to include more than 800 businesses, educational institutions and government entities, covering an eight county area and the City of Detroit . Automation Alley promotes regional prosperity through business attraction services, exporting assistance, workforce development and technology acceleration.

SOURCE Automation Alley