Russell Runge, an assistant city manager in Missouri, hovered on the edge of a packed reception for economic-development boosters and automotive-industry executives in northern Michigan. Runge was seeking jobs.
Runge’s city of Mexico, Missouri, located between General Motors Co. (GM:US) and Ford Motor Co. (F:US) factories in Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas, is home to a small auto-parts maker.
“Obviously, we’d love to see more suppliers in the area,” he said last week after a long day at the Center for Automotive Research’s annual industry conference near Traverse City.
He wasn’t alone. The 17-page roster of registered attendees included a who’s who of economic-development officials from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, all seeking a piece of a growing industry. The conference has long attracted state and local government officials eager to gain an audience with auto industry leaders by offering everything from MoonPies to cash incentives. There was new urgency and vibrancy this year. More here.