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Planning and Economic Development

Talking Talent

April 2023



Welcome to the second edition of Macomb County A & D Intel Quarterly

This aerospace and defense newsletter will provide a quick update on what is happening within the A&D community in Macomb County, the state of Michigan and how our work impacts the rest of the nation. Each newsletter will include updates from industry and contributing partners, upcoming events, success stories and more. 

Our team at Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) is dedicated to protecting and growing our A&D industries and welcomes the opportunity to tell your story. Please reach out if you have any upcoming events or news to share.

The remaining 2023 installments of our A&D Intel Quarterly will each feature a question and answer session with the new leaders of three of our local defense boards, including the National Defense Industrial Association – Michigan Chapter (NDIA), Women in Defense – Michigan Chapter (WID), and the Association of the United States Army – Arsenal of Democracy Chapter  (AUSA).

Each leader will be asked the same five questions. Each respondent will be asked to keep their responses to about 150 words.

Our first contributor is NDIA Michigan Chapter President Kim Wegner.


Q&A with Kim Wegner, NDIA Michigan Chapter president





The remaining 2023 installments of our A&D Intel Quarterly will each feature a question and answer session with the new leaders of three of our local defense boards, including the National Defense Industrial Association – Michigan Chapter (NDIA), Women in Defense – Michigan Chapter (WID), and the Association of the United States Army – Arsenal of Democracy Chapter  (AUSA).

Each leader will be asked the same five questions. Each respondent will be asked to keep their responses to about 150 words.

Our first contributor is NDIA Michigan Chapter President Kim Wegner.

1. Tell us about the mission of your organization and how it is different from other chapters in different states.

The mission of the Michigan Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is to bring together the needs of the Department of Defense (DoD) with the best in industry and academia. 

As a trusted and unbiased party, the Chapter offers opportunities for connections to be made to ensure the United States has ready and well-equipped forces to protect the safety and security of our nation. And at the same time, the Michigan Chapter is different than others since its primary focus is to support the defense ecosystem here in Michigan. Unlike other Chapter’s, Michigan’s defense footprint is extensive with more than 4,000 businesses supporting fields like ground systems, aerospace, space, cybersecurity, autonomy and artificial intelligence. It’s the goal of the NDIA Michigan Chapter to align industry, government and academia in order to bridge the gaps between those who provide and those who use the latest and greatest technology in order to keep our nation and its defenders safe.

2. What are some of the current initiatives your organization is working on?

The NDIA Michigan Chapter is in the prime of its busy event season. Between April and May, our teams of volunteers are playing host to four events: ROTC Awards Banquet, Michigan Defense Expo, Membership Social and the Cyber Physical Systems Security Summit. We are also reviewing applications from dedicated high school seniors for our annual STEM scholarships.

This summer, we will launch the Young Professionals Connect event, followed by our Annual Dinner meeting and the Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering Symposium (GVSETS).

As a dedicated volunteer-run non-profit, the Michigan Chapter is committed to reinvesting in our local defense communities with sponsorships and support where we can. In addition, we do a lot in tandem with other local Defense organizations such as the Association of the US Army (AUSA), Women in Defense (WID) and the Air Force and Space Association (AFA) with programs like the Michigan Congressional Delegation Breakfasts and a STEM virtual PI-Day event geared for the next generation of scientists and engineers.

3. What are some of the challenges your organization is dealing with?

The NDIA Michigan Chapter is one of the strongest chapters in the country and recognized annually as a Chapter of Excellence. However, we have our pain points. Despite our extremely experienced and dedicated volunteers, the Chapter is always looking for more to take the burden off those we have. The Michigan Chapter would also like to expand its mission to support more defense activities relating to aerospace, space, as well as DIB (Defense Industrial Base) programs in western and northern Michigan. However, the bandwidth of our volunteers with “day jobs” makes it difficult. Therefore, we are always accepting help to expand our efforts and offerings.

As mentioned, we’re launching Young Professionals Connect in June, which is intended to attract the next generation of leaders as we plan for the future. Hopefully, this new initiative will also expand our message to universities by enlightening students of all the tremendous defense-related opportunities, including internships, with both the government and industry which exist here in Michigan.

Another challenge is attracting and retaining NDIA members. Our Chapter has tremendous programs, most of which you need not be a NDIA member. But moving forward, we are offering more exclusive opportunities to members including DE&I programs, and Defense Acquisition University webinars. There is value in becoming a NDIA member beyond our Chapter, including additional educational and networking programs, and opportunities to voice concerns on issues like policy, appropriations, supply chain and talent with the national office.

4. Why is Michigan, and specifically Macomb County, such an ideal destination for aerospace and defense companies?

Between the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, and Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, along with being in close proximity to the U.S. automotive capital, Macomb County is an ideal location for the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) to set up shop. In addition, there is a wealth of talent found in the region, along with resources like the Macomb Regional APEX Accelerator and Michigan Defense Center, which help suppliers with the Defense acquisition process needs like training, counseling, proposal preparation, matchmaking and certifications.

As a whole, Michigan is set up for success when it comes to innovation, strategic planning, R&D and manufacturing, not to mention our tremendous universities, think-tanks, and exercise facilities like those found at Fort Grayling. 

In addition, we have dedicated leaders in Michigan and Washington D.C. who understand having a robust military support system not only benefits our local communities but also is critical to maintaining our national security.

5. What are the most important issues currently facing the aerospace and defense industries?

Unfortunately, the DIB is struggling. There is a mismatch between what our national strategies aim to achieve and how the DIB is postured. The number of companies, people and funding should be increasing due to our current threats and competition, but instead companies have left, workers are going elsewhere and spending continues to decrease.

Challenges such as the pandemic, record inflation, supply-chain disruptions, rising labor costs, the inability to retain qualified talent and the war in Ukraine have put significant pressure on the defense industry. 

From a manufacturing perspective, struggles include finding skilled labor, which is key to increasing the capacity of our military’s equipment and platforms.

Lastly, defense companies are finding it more difficult to do business with the Department of Defense (DoD). Regulations and policy-driven acquisition requirements create barriers, which often discourage new and small businesses which are not positioned like the Primes to navigate, thus inhibiting innovation and modernization.


Addressing the skills gap in Macomb County





We have all heard that there is a growing skills gap, and contrary to popular desire, thousands of skilled workers will not be falling from the sky, ready and willing to work for the lowest wage. So, the real question is, how can we address this juggernaut of an issue? There is an answer, but it goes beyond getting more people to work. The problem is a skills gap, not just a worker shortage.


Accelerated Programs

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, society was already on track to assimilate more technological innovation than ever before. Just a few short years ago, IBM stated that knowledge would soon double every 12 hours! Tech like that found in our cell phones permits the widespread use of new technology throughout the globe at speeds never seen before. 

As technology use rapidly spreads, traditional education models have fallen behind. It is not because the traditional models have failed; it’s the time it takes to complete a traditional program.

For instance, I recently had a conversation with a colleague who serves a college on the U.S. West Coast, where they have a significant cybersecurity labor force shortage. He explained that there were so many cybersecurity-related job postings in his area that it would take, using traditional education models, all the colleges and universities in that region more than 50 years to fill those positions. 

One solution being adopted is the creation of short-term and accelerated programs specifically designed for entry-level positions of the greatest need. These programs can be tailored to the industry and offered to individuals to enter the high-demand field in weeks versus years.

Institutions that deploy such programs see the pathway to success for students as short-term training, gainful employment, and degree attainment. This formula permits the industry to receive an infusion of skilled workforce and the student with the expectation of completing the degree that will provide their long-term upward mobility opportunities in the field. 

One of the best outcomes of this approach that we have seen is an improvement in underrepresented populations entering engineering and advanced technology jobs. Students explained to us that this is a result of the short education timeline combined with near immediate gainful employment that permits the life-changing wages that support the ability to continue their studies for a degree.

That leads me to the need to adopt certain techniques to increase the level of information assimilation in an accelerated format. Not only can non-traditional programs help meet the needs of today, but technology can also be used to increase student persistence and completion rates – permitting more students to enter the workforce.


Use of Augmented Reality

Usually, when I discuss the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in the classroom with individuals, it is common to enter into a debate over what is better, on-campus or online instruction. The level of this conversation is increased when considering accelerated engineering and advanced technology programs such as a robot technician program. 

Obviously, there are some strong arguments for that tactile education for such programs; however, we have also seen an improvement in student learning by integrating VR/AR technologies into our accelerated programs. 

There are a couple of ways that using AR can improve student persistence and completion.

First, using AR technology can positively impact a learner’s self-efficacy – that being the student’s learning capacity. Bandura’s (1989) social cognitive theory explained that there are three elements that affect an individual’s self-efficacy – the person, their behavior, and their environment. We found this to be especially insightful as a student’s environment may drive a regional or cultural expectation on their abilities to succeed in college-level instruction. 

To combat this, we implemented AR technology into the programs. We tailored an AR session to permit the students to explore their area of study without the worry of safety and equipment procedures. The result was remarkable. 

A recent student in the program said it best, “Before I came here, I thought I would never be successful in this field. I was afraid I would fail, and people told me I would fail. But now, I am not afraid of this, and I feel like I will succeed.” 

That student did succeed, graduated, and has a wonderful high-paying job today. The AR technology was not the complete solution, but it allowed us to positively impact the student's self-efficacy, that in turn affected their success. More than 85% of that cohort graduated. 

We are now infusing AR tech throughout the programs. We look to introduce the students to more complex processes, building on the concept of improving self-efficacy while reducing equipment maintenance and supply costs. With new program models and the integration of technology, we can begin to address the industry's needs at the speed they are transforming.


Patrick Rouse is the director of workforce and continuing education, engineering and advanced technology at Macomb Community College.



Macomb must do a better job advocating its strengths in aerospace and defense





Macomb County has been called the “Aerospace & Defense Capital of the Midwest” and serves as the epicenter for much of aerospace and defense industry activity throughout our great state of Michigan.

Macomb County also is home to the renowned “Defense Corridor,” which is a geographic area of land that measures one mile-wide (from Mound to Van Dyke) and nine miles long (from Interstate 696 to Hall Road). This corridor houses one of the heaviest concentrations of defense companies in the world and is located in both the city of Sterling Heights and the city of Warren.

As we widen our lens to look at Michigan as a whole, we have a strong military presence throughout Michigan with four military installations located in Alpena, Grayling, Battle Creek and Selfridge Air National Guard Base. These sites contribute to the nation’s security and provide an important local presence in the communities where they are located.

As mentioned in our previous edition, the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce plays host to an Aerospace & Defense committee that provides advocacy to military policy, protection of military installations and promotes growth of innovation and businesses in the defense community of southeastern Michigan.

The Aerospace & Defense Committee has made advocacy a top priority in light of the current environment and believes that we, as a state, must do a better job of promoting the assets we have within our state. 

In an effort to compete nationally, the Macomb County Chamber’s Aerospace & Defense Committee is creating a delegation to promote and position Michigan as the place for defense research, development, testing, engineering and advanced manufacturing. 

If you are interested in participating, please contact me at It is time to market Michigan for Aerospace & Defense!


Kelley Lovati is the president and CEO of the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce.


MEDC/MDC helps raise Michigan’s profile in aerospace and defense industry





These past several months have brought with them much activity within the defense and aerospace industry.

We at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation/Michigan Defense Center (MEDC/MDC) have been diligently tracking opportunities with the potential to enhance the state of Michigan’s position within defense and aerospace, as well as identifying areas where we can continue to provide support to existing initiatives to maintain our forward momentum.

One such effort has been our engagement in a joint multistate proposal to establish a Midwest Microelectronics Hub in response to DoD’s Microelectronics (ME) Commons Program Request for Solutions. As the current challenges and opportunities within the semiconductor industry remain a strategic focus for MEDC across several sectors, we realize that this includes specific implications for the DoD supply chain. 

We aim to position Michigan as a part of the solution, and we believe Michigan is well-positioned to play a significant role within the ME Commons strategy. We expect to hear feedback from DoD this summer regarding award decisions. So please stay tuned.

Additionally, you may be aware of the Space Industry Community of Interest that the MEDC/MDC have stood up and been operating to gain a better sense of how we can refine our collective approach towards the space sector, and we intend to carry this important initiative forward with an aim towards building upon the objectives already accomplished.

Lastly, I want to mention the recent delegation to the IDEX Exhibition in Abu Dhabi led by our International Trade Team. This is one of the most well-attended international defense trade shows, and MEDC/MDC continues to maintain a strong presence at this event. 

Our participation this year led to yet another successful defense delegation of Michigan businesses targeting business-to-business and business-to-government opportunities within the Middle Eastern market and beyond. 

Of additional interest in this regard, we are also beginning to explore participation at DSEI London, yet another key international defense trade show where there is an opportunity to elevate Michigan’s profile in defense and aerospace.

Furthermore, we continue to look towards the future knowing that additional opportunities to protect and grow our defense industry and infrastructure will surely present themselves, and we will need to be ready to meet these opportunities head on. 

We are pleased to share that we have been preparing for an addition of resources that will augment our forthcoming fiscal year 2024 budget and will further enable our ability to positively impact Michigan’s position within the national and international defense landscape. As we draw closer to FY24, we look forward to being able to share more details in this regard and ultimately working in partnership with stakeholders across the state as Team Michigan to ensure we are leveraging our resources to the maximum extent for the benefit of the entire state.

With all of these exciting initiatives we are leading and/or supporting, please feel free to reach out to me any time to discuss these efforts, defense in Michigan overall, and/or where we may be able to support and partner with you going forward.

Mark Ignash is the senior sector development director and defense advisor on the MEDC’s Market Development Team. He also serves as the interim executive director of the Michigan Defense Center.
Contact Mark Ignash at


Detroit Arsenal Defense Day in Macomb


The Detroit Arsenal in Warren played host to members of the Leadership Macomb XXV program in February and introduced them to members of Macomb County’s defense industry.

The event included a tour of the Detroit Arsenal as well as BAE Systems in Sterling Heights. The Leadership Macomb group was introduced to a variety of influential leaders, including those from the Department of Defense, defense industry suppliers, government and small business.

 Carrie Mead, U.S. Army Garrison – Detroit Arsenal’s garrison manager, began the day with an overview of the garrison organization’s role in managing the installation and how the garrison is comparable to the structure of a small city. 

“The Detroit Arsenal has its own department of public works, fire station, security force, and childcare facility,” Mead said. “You will find that we have most of the same services as a small city might – especially those services that focus on taking care of the people,”

Mead said the garrison manages the golf course, childcare, recreational vehicle storage and the marina at Selfridge Air National Guard base. 

“We know there is a need for these services at Selfridge, and since our organization is structured to manage those types of facilities, we partner with them to meet those needs,” Mead said. “We do our best to take care of all military members, retirees and their family members throughout Southeast Michigan.”

Like a city’s management team, the garrison maintains infrastructure and manages plans for what the installation will need five, 10 or 20 years into the future for things like buildings and utilities.

“Planning for our future requires a lot of partnering with our local community,” Mead said. “We do that at the organization level through programs like this (Leadership Macomb), through partnerships with the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce and the Aerospace and Defense Committee and through relationships built at the staff office level with their counterparts in the community. These relationships are often mutually beneficial and help us all grow together.”

Col. Steven Carozza, Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) chief of staff, presented an overview of what TACOMs does. TACOM manages the Army's ground equipment supply chain, which constitutes about 60 percent of the Army's total equipment. As new systems are developed, TACOM develops a supply chain and manages it.

“Our mission is developing and delivering readiness to U.S. Army forces worldwide,” Carozza said. “Figuring out what the army needs and getting it to them wherever they are. It’s a team of teams that makes up that capability to provide readiness to U.S. Army forces stationed worldwide. If a soldier drives it, shoots it, wears it or eats it, TACOM sustains it.”

Next, Col. Ryan Holloway, Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross (NGVC) Functional Team chief of staff, gave an overview of his organization. “The NGCV is a program that is working to provide capable replacements for old combat platforms that are nearing the end of their service life,” Holloway said. “We also introduce new warfighting capabilities to the Army.”

The colonel also talked about the importance of his team being in Macomb County near the developmental teams from the Big Three automakers. “We draw from the expertise and talent in the auto industry as we look to develop and improve new vehicles for the Army,” Holloway said. “We want to provide the safest, most effective vehicles for our soldiers and give them every possible advantage on the battlefield.”

Following the briefings, the Leadership Macomb group was able to tour several of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center research and development labs. 

Frank Devuono, former GVSC chief of staff, provided a history of the organization formally known as TARDEC and how it developed into the U.S. Armed Forces’ research and development facility for advanced technology in ground systems. The organization’s current technology focus areas include power and mobility, autonomous systems, force projection, survivability, electronics and architecture, cyber engineering, and software integration.

Before heading to BAE Systems for their afternoon session, the group had the opportunity to sit down for lunch with several senior enlisted soldiers stationed at the Detroit Arsenal. For many, this was their first opportunity to talk one-on-one with a member of the military and ask questions about their service. Most of the conversations revolved around why they joined the service, what their experiences were and how they managed their family life.

At BAE Systems, the group received a company overview from Angie Lommen, program director, Bradley Family of Vehicles. Lommen highlighted how BAE Systems Inc. is an international defense, aerospace and security company that delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. 

The Sterling Heights facility is home to approximately 530 employees comprised of engineers, manufacturing, program and other team members. This specific site supports the combat mission systems business, which designs, manufactures and delivers amphibious and ground vehicles and weapon systems to the U.S. Government.

With the visit drawing to a close, the Leadership Macomb group gathered for a photo with an armored multi-purpose vehicle (AMPV), the newest tracked combat vehicle being fielded to the U.S. Army. The AMPV is the replacement for the Vietnam War-era M113 currently in use. The multi-mission family of vehicles includes five variants and has room for growth beyond the current configurations: general purpose, mission command, mortar carrier, medical evacuation, and medical treatment. The AMPV is one of the U.S. Army’s top modernization programs.

Leadership Macomb is a non-profit organization that offers a 10-month program to leaders from numerous institutions and disciplines throughout Macomb County. During the program, students obtain in-depth information about issue driven, relevant topics in Macomb County and develop long-term business relationships. Since 1996, more than 1,400 individuals representing more than 140 organizations have participated in the Leadership Macomb Program.

To learn more about Leadership Macomb, visit


Steve Ball is the public affairs officer at U.S. Army Garrison Detroit.


Five reasons to attend MDEX


The Michigan Defense Exposition, or MDEX, is coming to the Macomb Community College Expo Center in Warren on April 19-20.

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) plays host to MDEX in what is considered a premier Department of Defense buyer/supplier event. The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) is another host of the event.

The Macomb Community College Expo Center is located at 14500 East 12 Mile Road in Warren.

Hali Lenney, a business developer with MCPED, provided her top five reasons to attend MDEX.

  1. Connect with someone who needs your product or service.
  2. Connect with someone whose product or service you need.
  3. Get updated on the latest industry plans and developments.
  4. Hear updates from everyone at the Detroit Arsenal – GVSC (Ground Systems Vehicle Center); PEO GCS (Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems); PEO CS&CSS (Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support); and NGCV CFT (Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team)
  5. Experience one of the biggest Defense expositions in the Midwest

Attendance at MDEX is free, but registration is required. Registration closes Friday, April 4 p.m.


PTAC is now APEX Accelerators


The Macomb Regional Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and its Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) has changed its name to Macomb Regional APEX Accelerators.

The program is now under the management of the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP), which prompted the name change.

Founded in 1985, the program serves the business community by eliminating barriers to local, state and federal contracting. 

While the name and logo have changed, APEX Accelerators will continue to provide the same important services and more. 

For more information on APEX Accelerators visit: or send an email to:


Success stories

General Dynamics lands major Army contracts


General Dynamics Land Systems, with facilities based in Sterling Heights, landed two, billion-dollar contracts this winter.

In March, General Dynamics announced a $1.5 billion contract to manufacture large-caliber metal projectiles and mortar projectiles for the U.S. Army. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of July 30, 2029.

Also in March, General Dynamics announced it had been awarded a $1.8 billion U.S. Army contract to deliver flight simulation training services. The contract is expected to run through March 31, 2035.


Reach out to us - We can help

Are you looking to expand your aerospace or defense company into Macomb County or grow an established business here?

The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development is here to help, whether it be site selection, tax abatements, connection to workforce needs and incentives, or any state grants and services, we offer free guidance and assistance.

Senior Economic Developer Curt Chowanic is our contact for aerospace. He can be reached at or 586-469-6284.

Senior Economic Developer Todd Seibert is our contact for defense. He can be reached at or 586-469-6298.


Upcoming events of the quarter

Here is the list of upcoming Aerospace and Defense related events in and around Michigan and around the country ...


More 2023 events 




Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

June 7 

AUSA Army Birthday event

June 23

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

July 5

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

August 2

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

September 6

September 6 & 7

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

October 4

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

November 1

WID Annual Meeting & Gala

November 3

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

December 6


If you have an event coming up, please contact us.



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