Broad College Supply Chain Management faculty, led by The John H. McConnell Chair in Business Administration David J. Closs, have been investigating how the Southeast Michigan region can enhance its economy by taking advantage of its cross-border and international air, rail, highway and trade coordination capabilities. Thanks to two substantial grants from The New Economy Initiative (NEI) totaling approximately $400,000, Closs and his team have been working closely with the Detroit Regional Chamber and Wayne State University to evaluate these assets.

The results of the initial opportunity assessment determined that more than 66,000 new jobs and $10 billion in annual economic activity could result in the region if a coordinated strategy is used to attract regional, cross-border and global supply chain management. While other regions have focused on supply chain as well, the SE Michigan region has unique differential capabilities including cross-border location, global supply chain expertise, and available capacity.

During the first phase of their endeavor, research identified three broad industry supply chain hubs that could be created to attract new industry and facilitate partnerships and growth opportunities: heavy manufacturing (such as auto, alternative energy, chemic, defense), light manufacturing (like food processing, medical and water technologies) and distribution (like warehousing, retail important and waste management).

Now in the second phase of this project, the team is working to identify pilot firms with which to implement the supply chain hub strategy they identified in their research. After following through with a pilot program, they will evaluate the strategy and hope to attract other firms to follow the same model.

Closs says that the NEI grants provide the opportunity for the region’s team of supply chain professionals, economic development experts and governmental supporters to work collaboratively to identify specific pilot firms, determine inhibitors to regional economic activity, reduce barriers and develop an attractive value proposition. “The results of the first grant and knowledge of the second grant have stimulated joint public and private sector involvement and cooperation,” he says. “We hope to share findings from evaluating pilot firms by December 2011.”