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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. Automation Alley offers talent and business development programs and services to tech-focused businesses of all sizes — from startups to large corporations — to help them grow and prosper.
Since its founding in 1999, Automation Alley’s membership has grown to include nearly 1,000 businesses, educational institutions, government entities and nonprofit organizations from the city of Detroit and the surrounding eight-county region. Automation Alley provides a variety of exclusive benefits to its members to help them succeed, including networking opportunities, meeting space and public relations tools. Automation Alley also serves the general business community in four key areas: entrepreneurial services, talent development, international business services, and defense and manufacturing.
Automation Alley collaborates with regional partners to provide its members and clients with the best business resources available, to drive local economic growth, and to positively influence the stories being told around the globe about the people and businesses of Greater Detroit.
The genesis of Automation Alley can be traced back to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s 1997 State of the County address, where Patterson unveiled his vision for leveraging the combined strength of the county's high-tech companies into a national marketing strategy that could be used as a tool to attract skilled talent and cutting-edge businesses. Denise Sedman, an Oakland County employee, created the non-profit organization with L. Brooks Patterson, and was its first Executive Director. An article in the Detroit News (R.J. King, May 10, 1998) announced the initial plans for the brand identity campaign. The official launch was November 9, 1998 during a press conference (Oakland Press, Marsha Stopa, November 10, 1998).
The first phase of development, where the organization's basic structure was formed, began with a member roster of 44 organizations. The beginning of the second phase turned Automation Alley into a working organization and dramatically increased membership. Four member-driven committees were established and member benefits, including seminars, networking events, and a quarterly newsletter were created. During the second phase, a national marketing campaign was launched to attract high-tech talent to the area.
In 2001, a trade mission program was established with the assistance of a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The initial funding enabled Automation Alley to create a program to aid small businesses in boosting their sales through the use of exports.
In the summer of 2003, Automation Alley embarked upon a new phase of development with the creation of a business accelerator. With Automation Alley's support and resources, ideas are turned into usable, marketable technology solutions. Assistance includes limited pre-seed and commercialization funding, business plan and strategy development support as well as a powerful network of experts and mentors.
Automation Alley Headquarters opened in the fall of 2004 and is located in the designated Automation Alley Technology Park-Troy, south of Big Beaver between John R and Rochester Roads. A variety of events take place at the facility, including educational seminars and workshops.
Automation Alley creates a variety of opportunities to help members succeed. With an ongoing offering of programs and benefits, Automation Alley works to assist entrepreneurs, small business owners and Fortune 500 companies.
Benefits and opportunities: • Diversification opportunities with the U.S. military • Consulting with retired military consultants at no cost • Trade missions to countries around the world • Counseling services and business plan assistance for entrepreneurs • Seed funding for emerging technology companies • Educational seminars and networking events that assist in building professional connections • Free space for business meetings, seminars, presentations and more • Resource guides with information on the latest trends in human resources, finance, marketing and social media • A robust job board with posted positions in Southeast Michigan • An informative press release system that allows members to share their news • A Business Contact List that promotes members' products and services
International Business Activities
Automation Alley conducts trade missions to countries around the world. These missions are results-driven, generating more than $326 million in export sales for local participating companies.
Automation Alley also offers entrepreneurial services, which bring together businesses, educators, and government to help entrepreneurs accelerate the commercialization of new technologies and services. This assistance includes limited pre-seed and commercialization funding, business plan and strategy development support, and a network of experts and mentors. To date, Automation Alley has invested $8.59 million in 38 high-tech companies across Southeast Michigan.
Defense and Manufacturing
Southeast Michigan is home to a robust manufacturing base and a growing defense industry. Automation Alley offers several programs to support these industries in the region. The organization also provides avenues for local businesses to explore opportunities in the defense and manufacturing arenas. Automation Alley’s defense office is located in the heart of Michigan’s Defense Corridor, creating opportunities for collaboration with local defense industry partners, including U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC) and Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).
Southeast Michigan is home to more than 7,000 technology business establishments. Attracting, developing and retaining a talented workforce is essential for the future economic success of these businesses and the region. Through partnerships with government entities, educational institutions and local businesses, Automation Alley is working to train employees for high-level IT positions at local companies through the Technical Talent Development Program; to build the tech-talent pipeline through STEM initiatives; and to establish the region as a Center of Excellence in modeling, simulation and visualization.
Product Lifecycle Management Center
The Automation Alley Product Lifecycle Management Center, located on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., was created to address the need in Southeast Michigan for knowledge transfer in the product lifecycle management arena. PLM is a vital process for all digital design and manufacturing of the future and provides companies with an information backbone. The center is a tool to brand the region as a hub for excellence in digital modeling and a leader among the nation's technology economies.
Since its founding in 1999, Automation Alley’s membership has grown to include nearly 1,000 businesses, educational institutions, government entities and nonprofit organizations from the city of Detroit and the surrounding eight-county region of Southeast Michigan.