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Report: Metro Detroit Tech Economy 'Equal To All Of Silicon Valley'

By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) - Metro Detroit's technology economy is among the tops in the nation, according to Automation Alley's Technology Industry Report.

The report, presented Thursday at Automation Alley's Technology Industry Outlook at the Colony Club in Detroit, was compiled by the Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing. It bench marked the metro Detroit region against 14 other high-tech hubs across the nation.

"You have a technology industry in metro Detroit that is the equal to all of Silicon Valley," said Patrick Anderson, who found Metro Detroit comparable in terms of number of jobs, employers and occupations. "Right now you have the technology weight of Silicon Valley right around you, and it has been building for the last 10 years."

Detroit was measured against other regions across the country, including San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Austin, Texas; Chicago; and Boston for job creation, business creation, innovation and education.

The report analyzed data from sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Center for Education Statistics for sectors including defense, chemical, life sciences advanced manufacturing, related and other technologies along with STEM education.

In many of these areas, the report found metro Detroit ranks highly in the following categories:

  • First nationally in the number of advanced automotive industry jobs and establishments.
  • First nationally in the number of engineering technology degrees earned.
  • First in the Midwest in the concentration of tech-focused jobs.
  • First nationally in the number of architectural and engineering jobs.
  • Second in the Midwest in the number of utility patents issued.
  • Third nationally in the percentage of total employment in the technology industry.
  • Third nationally in the number of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees earned
  • Third in the Midwest in the number of technology establishments.

Not surprisingly, metro Detroit had the most advanced automotive establishments with 462. But it is not just the traditional assembly plant -- advanced manufacturing facilities are building state-of-the-art vehicles.

"People in Michigan woke up some time ago to the fact the auto industry is a tech industry," said Anderson, who ranks the North American International Auto Show among the best technology shows in the world.

The report found that more than 7,000 technology establishments called metro Detroit home, and had more technology industry establishments than Pittsburgh and Cleveland combined.

One of the over-looked areas in the region's technology sector is life-sciences. Anderson said there are "extremely strong" life sciences - including hi-tech medical - sectors in Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

"We are leveraging the technology we are using in other sectors," said Anderson, who described the efforts to make smaller, stronger medical devices as similar to work being conducted in automotive. "Our skills are transferable and it is a sustainable advantage for us."

The in-depth report has benefits for government, industry and education, to attract talent to the region, provide data for trade missions and future university programs, stated Kelly Kozlowski, senior director for Automation Alley.

"There are uses for all of our membership," said Kozlowski.

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