Michigan’s Manufacturing Future


There’s no doubt that manufacturing has been a huge part of Michigan’s history and identity. Ever since cars were a thing, Michigan and specifically Detroit has been known as the world’s automotive capital. The big three: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all have their roots in Michigan and continue to represent a huge part of Michigan’s economy and labor force.

On top of that, manufacturing makes up 21% of Michigan’s gross domestic product and 90% of Michigan’s exports are a result of manufacturing. Also a huge number of businesses exist to supplement the existing manufacturing and automotive industry, such as automotive research and industrial machining suppliers.

As a result of being closely tied to the manufacturing industry, Michigan’s economy has both boomed and busted over the years. As companies slowly began investing in overseas manufacturing facilities to cut costs in the 1970s and 80s Michigan’s economy suffered, particularly in local communities like Flint and Plymouth where a huge percentage of employment was directly tied to manufacturing. Manufacturing jobs continue to leave Michigan to this date. From 2000 to 2003 over 160,000 manufacturing jobs moved out of Michigan.

While it’s true that a diverse economy is a strong economy, it isn’t smart for Michigan to ignore its current economy and what is currently driving economic activity. What Michigan needs is a diverse and innovative manufacturing economy so manufacturing skills and assets can be transferrable between related manufacturing companies.

Steel manufacturing businesses in Michigan continue to perform well because unlike foreign steel companies that produce bulk amounts of generic steel, many Michigan based steel manufacturers are able to produce custom grade steel types suited for a specific application. If a business is in need to discuss face to face with supplier of 1035 carbon steel that can custom make small batches of steel to their specified grade shape and size they are less likely to address those needs from an international supplier.

As products evolve and require skilled and innovative manufacturing businesses to help make their products, Michigan’s goal should be a hotspot for new businesses to establish themselves close to advanced manufacturing facilities. Michigan is home to some of the leading lithium ion battery manufacturers in the world such as Xalt Energy.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has also taken upon itself to develop career development programs including Career Jump Start and Michigan Advanced Technician (MAT) Squared that

Manufacturing has been the backbone of Michigan’s economy for a long time and it will likely remain that way for decades to come. If Michigan continues to evolve its manufacturing economy to fit the needs of the 21st century then Michigan’s economy should exceed all expectations.