Renewable energy, manufacturing jobs and the future of Michigan were major points of discussion at a Troy Chamber of Commerce’s “Your City, County, State & You event on Friday, April 28.
The event, which brought area businesses and government leaders together to discuss the future of the city and build partnerships, featured a speaking panel that included Troy Mayor Ethan Baker, Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter, and Quentin Messer, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). It was moderated by Fox 2 News’ Taryn Asher and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered closing remarks.
Messer pointed to the success of tier-one automotive suppliers in Michigan since they’re close to manufacturing plants. He believes semiconductor and clean energy businesses could thrive for the same reason, he said.
“It is easier for a small business to grow [exponentially] if they’ve got a good customer nearby,” said Messer. “We know proximity leads to accelerated profit.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MDEC) is still actively handing out funds to small businesses with State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) from the U.S. Treasury, Messer said (last year, the state was awarded over $263 million).
All three panelists spoke favorably about electrification (replacing fossil fuel with renewable electricity). Baker called Troy the “perfect place” to implement the policy; Coulter envisioned what it might look like countywide.
“If we don’t protect the planet that we live on, all the rest of the stuff that we do is not going to really mean a hill of beans to our grandchildren,” said Coulter. “Electrification is important from an economic development standpoint, and I think we can create a lot of green jobs.”
Coulter is focused on cultivating and retaining talent in Oakland County, he said. That includes the goal to increase the number of residents with a college diploma or certificate to 80% by 2030. He’s also “bullish” about more investment in Pontiac, which he sees as an “urban core [with] a Midtowny sort of vibe” to attract and retain young people.
New Developments in Troy
Baker said homebuyers are drawn to Troy’s top-ranking schools and diverse community (nearly 30% of residents were born outside the U.S., according to the 2021 census). His reasoning for why businesses settle in the city:
“We’re boring,” he said, half joking. “[But] Troy is consistent and reliable. [Business owners] know what they’re going to get with the city. We may move slower on some things, but that consistency makes us attractive.”
Three companies will announce expansions of their Troy locations next month, he noted. One is Ancor Automotive, which makes software and labels for the automotive industry and offers printing and fulfillment services. Another is PureForge, a Pontiac-headquartered automotive parts maker, which moved its manufacturing and testing facility from California to Troy in March. The third is Tata Elxsi, a multinational technology and design firm with its central office in Bangalore, India.
Baker also expressed excitement about landscape renovations along Big Beaver that the Troy Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will begin work on soon. The first area they plan to target is around the I-75 diverging diamond interchange, completed in 2021.
Whitmer Speaks, Pushes Proposed Budget
Troy was the first stop for Gov. Whitmer on a tour of appearances in Oakland County. She delivered a brief closing speech to attendees, then left for engagements at Auburn Hills manufacturer BorgWarner and Oakland University.
In Troy, she took the opportunity to discuss her proposed 2024 budget, which state legislators are still working on. She highlighted several of the proposals, including:
- Free breakfast and lunch for all Michigan public school students
- A recurring annual deposit to the Economic Development Fund
- A clean onshoring energy tax credit designed to incentivize clean manufacturing and industrial decarbonization projects for businesses
- Investment in school safety programs designed to prevent mass shootings
She thanked the Troy business community for being ambassadors of the state.
“I often tell my friends—have you ever met someone from Texas? They brag about that state on and on,” Whitmer said. “Michiganders are humble. And I think that that is a wonderful quality. But every one of us should feel empowered to tell the story of what’s happening here.”