At its annual meeting, the Economic Development Council of Livingston County (EDCLC) celebrated business growth in the county and hosted an insightful panel discussion around the county’s workforce demands and opportunities. Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO Paul Krutko presented the audience with an update on COVID-related recovery funding for businesses as well as the economic impact of EDCLC’s collaboration with SPARK.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Ann Arbor SPARK has distributed more than $3.2 million in grants to over 330 business owners here in Livingston County,” Krutko said. “While administering these funds, Ann Arbor SPARK continued to deliver the business support services that are core to its mission, providing valuable educational programming as well as assistance to companies that needed to attract job seekers.”
Remarking on the long-term results of Ann Arbor SPARK’s partnership with EDCLC, he added, “The success of our collaborative efforts is evident over the past nine years, over which time our work resulted in 51 business development projects that collectively contributed $325 million in new investment and 1,300 jobs to the local economy.”
In addition to a presentation about EDCLC’s work with Ann Arbor SPARK, the annual meeting featured an informative panel discussion on the current state of talent in Michigan. Panelists included:
- Dr. Alan Drimmer, president of Cleary University
- Shamar Herron, executive director of Michigan Works! Southeast
- Andrea Ferrario, senior director, human resources at Ascension
- Dr. Michael Hubert, superintendent of Livingston Educational Service Agency
- Suzy Murphy, vice president of Work Skills
EDCLC also presented three awards, for Resilience, Project of the Year, and Talent Innovator. Brighton-based Kem Krest, awarded for its Resilience, specializes in program management to reduce material costs through supply chain, fulfillment, chemical packaging, and aftersales strategies. In the last year, the company pivoted to manufacture in-demand hand sanitizer, keeping its team employed and operations running.
Project of the Year FT Techno of America, or FTTA, operates an automotive vehicle evaluation center on proving grounds spanning approximately 950 acres in Handy Township. The facility is dedicated to engineering, design, R&D, testing and prototype activities to support FTTA’s parent company Aisin, and its affiliates in North America. Since the facility opened in 2005, FTTA has continued to invest in, and expand on their capabilities and services at the proving grounds. In 2021, FTTA constructed a 1.4 mile handling course, as well as an area of special surfaces for evaluating vehicle ride comfort, noise, harshness, and vibration.
The Talent Innovator Award honored the Manufacturing Collaborative, a joint effort between Ann Arbor SPARK and the Greater Area Brighton Chamber of Commerce. This group of nine employers meet on a regular basis to share data and ideas in an effort to create a pipeline of talent for critical jobs in the county. Recently, the program expanded when the Collaborative’s champion employer, Work Skills Corporation created a curriculum using virtual reality and computer-based online training methods to expedite workforce training for critical skilled trades positions.
About Ann Arbor SPARK
Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit 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. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners. For more information, please call (734) 761-9317 or visit www.AnnArborUSA.org.