Thursday, October 31, 2013

Supplier Envy: Southern states set sights on Michigan’s auto suppliers

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A new Brookings Institution report on the future of Tennessee’s automotive industry might make for some interesting reading for West Michigan supplier companies.

At the very least, it will make them feel wanted.

After luring auto assembly jobs south over the past couple of decades, the Volunteer State is discovering that cheap labor, attractive incentives and a business-friendly environment won’t be enough to stay competitive long term, the report noted. Assembly jobs have continued to move south, specifically to Mexico where there’s been more than $3.5 billion invested in automotive plants in recent years.

So Tennessee and its southern neighbors have looked north again and are setting their sights on the automotive supply chain, according to the report.

“They want to get what we have,” said economic developer Randy Thelen, president of Zeeland-based Lakeshore Advantage. In particular, southern states are eyeing the engineering, technology and design assets that Michigan-based automotive supplier companies have built up over the past century. More here.

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