When the topic of technology centers in the U. S. comes up, discussions focus on Silicon Valley, the “Route 128 Belt” in Massachusetts, Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, as well as centers in Texas and Seattle. One of the fastest growing technology centers is often overlooked – Southeastern Michigan. The area is sometimes discounted because of the well-publicized struggles of the auto industry. A recent report, however, shows that the region is in fact one of the leading tech centers in the country and compares favorably with other more heralded technology hotbeds.
Part of this growth is being driven by rapid advances in computer aided design/computer aided engineering (CAD/CAE) that allows engineers in many of the region’s 7,000 technology companies to develop innovative manufacturing solutions. The 2015 Technology Industry Report from Automation Alley shows Southeast Michigan as home to some of the nation’s top technical talent, a leader in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) academic disciplines, and a key driver of automotive industry innovation.
Automation Alley is a technology business association and business accelerator dedicated to growing the economy of Southeast Michigan and enhancing the region’s reputation around the world. Their report outlines where Southeast Michigan ranks compared to other U. S. technology centers, details the importance of technology to their region, highlights their STEM education trends, and projects the innovation potential for the area.
How Southeast Michigan stacks up
The report analyzed data for 15 tech centers in the U. S. and rated them by various criteria. Southeast Michigan ranked in the top half of the regions analyzed in size, and first in number of advanced automotive establishments. They employed almost a quarter of a million people working in technology businesses, more than 10 of the 14 regions analyzed. Most jobs were in the advanced automotive industry followed by information technology, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and chemical and material. All of these industries are heavily reliant on CAD/CAE.
Technology economy strengths
After a downturn from 2006 to 2010 in Southeast Michigan, the number of technology jobs began a growth spurt of 4.5% between 2012 and 2013 and a 3.6% increase from 2013 to 2014. Southeast Michigan’s growth of tech jobs is projected to be 1.9% into 2015 with the biggest gains expected in IT, Life Sciences, and Advanced Manufacturing.
Growing STEM education
A key driver of growth in the Tech sector is the strength of the STEM education pipeline. Southeast Michigan ranks third nationally in the number of STEM degrees earned making highly skilled workers available to fuel the region’s growth. STEM degrees make up almost 19% of the degrees earned in the area compared to less than 14% nationwide, showing the region’s increased focused on technology education.
Engineering and engineering-related fields – both industries heavily dependent on CAD/CAE – ranked first and second in terms of field of study.
The strength of the technology industry is leading to a burst of innovation from the Southeast Michigan area. The region ranks second in the Midwest in the number of utility patents issues – a key indicator of innovation.
CAD/CAE technology and expertise is critical to the economic growth of not only the Southeast Michigan area, but also the entire country. Pioneering efforts in robotics, advanced materials, life sciences, and alternative energy, among others, would not be possible without advanced CAD/CAE technology. The Automation Alley report demonstrates that Southeast Michigan is doing its part to help make technology a leading driver of the U. S. economy.