Ann Arbor's Economy Driven By Research, Talent

Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor leverages a wealth of capabilities to create a diverse and dynamic economy

By on
Ann Arbor, MI
Courtesy of the University of Michigan

Ann Arbor draws on a wealth of advantages in talent, location and research capabilities to craft a dynamic $22 billion economy.

With innovation-driven cornerstone industries that include automotive and mobility, life sciences and health care, technology, and data and information, the two-county region of 525,000 benefits from a deep pool of talent, world-class research and education assets plus a lower cost structure than coastal locations.

“We have the ingenuity, entrepreneurship and very strong engineering core talent that really allows us to create products that change the world,” says Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, the region’s leading economic development organization.

The area is defined by diversity. Located in southeast Michigan, the region encompasses cities, villages, and townships that range from urban to rural and small town to suburban.

Diversity is reflected in the educational, recreational and business opportunities as well. Two of the largest cities in the region are home to nationally recognized universities — the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. These schools bring a vitality to the region in every aspect of life. Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor welcomes more than 13,000 students from 100 different countries each year.

Ann Arbor SPARK

The region’s economic development momentum is powered by Ann Arbor SPARK, a nonprofit organization that counts major business, industry, government and academic organizations among its supporters.

The organization is advancing the region by encouraging and supporting business acceleration, attraction and retention. The organization identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from startups to large organizations.

“SPARK has been an excellent opportunity for us since we moved here - both in terms of getting us into downtown and for helping tell our story .... We made a lot of connections we wouldn’t have otherwise made in the entrepreneurial community here,” says Nate Oostendorp, co-founder and chief technology officer at Sight Machine, which develops end-to-end manufacturing analytics platforms for manufacturers.

Ann Arbor's Talent Advantage

U-M is a powerhouse research institution that helps drive entrepreneurial innovation in the allows us to create products that change the world,” says Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, the region’s leading economic development organization.

The area is defined by diversity. Located in southeast Michigan, the region encompasses cities, villages, and townships that range from urban to rural and small town to suburban.

Diversity is reflected in the educational, recreational and business opportunities as well. Two of the largest cities in the region are home to nationally region and anchors its higher education assets.

A highly educated workforce - nearly 55 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree, well above state and U.S. averages – gives the region a significant talent advantage and provides employers with a ready supply of skilled workers.

GM, Ford and Google

A number of nationally and globally known companies are headquartered or have major operations in the Ann Arbor region, including General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Toyota, Google, Truven Health Analytics, Thomson Reuters and Domino’s.

TD Ameritrade chose Ann Arbor in 2014 as the location for its ThinkTech Inc. technology subsidiary. The company originally chose Ann Arbor over cities in Nebraska, New Jersey and Illinois, in great part due to availability of skilled talent.

The company has since expanded in the region, investing $5.7 million to open a financial services center where it develops stock trading software.

The Ann Arbor region is an international business destination. Seventy-six foreign-owned firms representing 17 nations employ more than 5,000 people. Global companies continue to see the benefits of locating in the region.

SF Motors, a Chinese company, is investing more than $10.7 million to open its U.S. research and development operations in Pittsfield Township for next- generation electric vehicles.

“Michigan is at the cutting edge of new automotive technologies as well as being an engineering powerhouse and we want to be a part of this great community,” says John Zhiang, SF Motors CEO.

The region’s quality of life appeal, from arts, culture and recreation amenities to a distinctive downtown, helps attract and keep talent.

Ann Arbor ranked No. 1 on Livability.com’s Top 100 Best Cities in 2018.

“Ann Arbor attracts global attention from companies like SF Motors because it’s one of the few places in the world that has a confluence of mobility innovation and talent,” Krutko says.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for ... more

More Articles About Ann Arbor, MI

Fri, 06/07/2019 - 12:45