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Planning and Economic Development

Talking Talent

July 2023


Welcome to the third issue of our quarterly Aerospace and Defense newsletter. This briefing will provide readers a quick update on what is happening within the aerospace and defense 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 aerospace and defense industries and welcomes the opportunity to tell your story. Please reach out if you have any upcoming events or news to share.


Q&A with Sue Tellier, WID Women in Defense 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 second contributor is WID Michigan Chapter President Sue Tellier.


1. Tell us about the mission of your organization.

Women in Defense (WID) was founded to engage, cultivate and advance women in all aspects of national security. An affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Organization (NDIA), WID coordinates programming designed for professional development to retain talented women in the defense industrial base. Through 21 chapters across the country, WID serves as a forum for networking, mentorship, and teaming.

WID Michigan is the largest, and one of the strongest and most active chapters in the country. WID Michigan strengthens and influences the defense and national security industry by inspiring women, cultivating leadership and growing professional relationships.


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

WID Michigan has several current initiatives, and our programming supports them. 

First, we want to remain the largest chapter in the country and double in size. This membership "win" matters for a few reasons. It shows the significance of Michigan in the defense industry. Across the country, there are 21 chapters, including in key defense regions. But we are the largest. Michigan matters.

Our membership growth means more opportunities for formal and informal mentorship, more connections made and nurtured and more professional development. Our board is filled with competitors who like winning.

To support our membership growth and retention goals, we develop meaningful programming events and purely social events. Both of these matter, and our volunteer board is amazing at events that matter and events that are fun. We also engage in personal outreach to defense leaders who we don’t see on our membership list. (So if we call you and ask you to pay $40 to join, it’s a compliment because we see you as someone who matters.)

Also, I love delegating, so I’ll also give readers an action item. Consider joining Women in Defense. It’s free for government, and it’s $40 for industry. That’s a crazy good value.

Second, we want to give scholarships to Michigan women who are committed to pursuing careers in homeland security and defense. To make this happen, we coordinate fundraising events which raise scholarship dollars. For example, our golf outing is July 31. One hundred percent of the funds raised at the golf outing go to scholarships.


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

Volunteers run WID Michigan. We have day jobs, and most of us are committed to other organizations as well. This has positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, we are chock full of passion and engagement. Our four officers, seven board members, and 21 advisors to the board donate their time to WID Michigan because they care about what we do, and they see the results.

Recently, at our Women’s Leadership Forum in May, a well-respected leader in the defense industrial base shared a great story – and a great photo. There were five women in attendance who she had personally mentored through the years because of WID. All five women have grown into leaders in the defense industry. What we do matters, because we keep talented people involved in protecting our warfighters. Yes, we have fun while doing meaningful things – because it matters.

Being run by volunteers means we are always looking to engage with new talent. Another action item – if you are looking to get more involved in the defense industry, please connect with us. We are genuinely welcoming.


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

I’m so proud that we’ve grown WID Michigan into the largest chapter in the country. Michigan is home to the largest ground vehicle programs, the most innovative small businesses and the most engaging defense industry leaders. We have great OTAs, and we have statewide elected and appointed leaders who care about the industry’s growth in our region.

Macomb County has taken great steps to lead our state in this regard. With significant defense players located in the county, there is a natural attraction for small businesses and other innovators. The Velocity Center is a great example of this. When WID Michigan was planning our Women’s Leadership Forum, we either wanted it at MCC or Velocity. We really didn’t consider other options. (It was at Velocity, and it was amazing.)


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

CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) continues to challenge our industry, with a proportionally larger impact on small businesses.

Contested logistics, supply chain challenges and investment in domestic manufacturing resiliency will continue to matter. While in our post-COVID environment, there is increasing demand for virtual jobs, we must remember that manufacturing is not a “work at home” space.


Macomb Community College helps close the workforce skills gap in aerospace and defense in Macomb County





The aerospace and defense industries play a crucial role in national security and technological advancement. 

However, these sectors face an ever-pressing challenge: workforce development. 

As technology advancements continue to accelerate and global competition intensifies, employers in these industries must address critical workforce issues to ensure they have a skilled and diverse talent pool capable of driving innovation and maintaining a competitive edge. Macomb Community College can play an active role in helping individual companies address these challenges.

The widening skills gap is one of the most significant challenges facing the aerospace and defense industries. Rapid advancements in technology require a highly skilled workforce. But for many, the postsecondary education necessary to prepare for these types of jobs is an insurmountable financial barrier. To help address this obstacle, Macomb Community College has introduced Macomb Tuition Advantage, a program designed to ensure the inability to afford tuition doesn’t stop individuals from accessing a quality education. This is one step in helping bridge the skills gap by supporting those with the drive and ambition to develop the competencies to be a professional in the aerospace and defense industries. 

These sectors have historically struggled with diversity, even while understanding it is critical for fostering innovation and driving success in any industry.. Through targeted recruitment efforts and support programs designed to meet students where they are and help them achieve access success, MCC actively promotes and supports diversity initiatives. 

An aging workforce is also a continued challenge for industry. Many experienced professionals are nearing retirement, which could create a significant knowledge gap, and impede innovation and continuity. Comprehensive workforce development programs that offer those interested in opportunities to upskill or transition into the aerospace and defense sectors can be a game-changer. Accessible education and training opportunities are imperative to bridge the knowledge gap and support succession planning efforts. Through collaboration with industry leaders, Macomb helps facilitate knowledge transfer, ensuring valuable understanding and knowledge is passed down to the next generation of professionals.

The aerospace and defense industries are at the forefront of technological disruption, with advancements such as unmanned aerial vehicles, autonomous systems, and low orbital satellites revolutionizing operations. However, integrating these technologies requires a skilled workforce capable of understanding and harnessing the potential. Macomb Community College recognizes the importance of remaining at the forefront of emerging technologies and partnering with industry to offer cutting-edge programs in areas such as cybersecurity, robotics and advanced manufacturing. 

The college provides hands-on education and training to develop new talent, but also offers ongoing professional development programs to help current industry talent enhance its skills and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving industry. Additionally, the college's close ties to the local business community provide access to networking opportunities and connections, further strengthening the workforce and promoting talent retention.

Macomb Community College is committed to being a vital partner in addressing the critical workforce development issues faced by the aerospace and defense industries. Collaborating with industry leaders, other educational institutions and government entities, Macomb is dedicated to supporting  a robust and capable workforce that can navigate the challenges and drive innovation in these vital industries.


Patrick Rouse is the director of workforce development and continuing education at Macomb Community College.



Macomb County Chamber creating delegation to promote area as aerospace and defense capital





Macomb County has been called the “Aerospace and 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 is also home to the renowned “Defense Corridor,” which is a geographic area of land that measures nine miles long and one mile-wide. This corridor houses one of the heaviest concentrations of defense companies in the world and is located in the cities of Sterling Heights and Warren.

To capitalize on that status and help Macomb County compete nationally in those industries, the Macomb County Chamber’s Aerospace and Defense Committee is creating a delegation to promote and position Michigan as the place for defense research, development, testing and engineering and advanced manufacturing. The Chamber is looking for participants to join the delegation.

The Macomb County Chamber of Commerce Aerospace and Defense committee provides advocacy to military policy, protection of military installations and promotes growth of innovation and businesses in the defense community of southeastern Michigan.

Macomb County is part of a strong military presence that branches throughout the state, with military installations located in Alpena, Grayling, Battle Creek and our own Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township. These sites contribute to the nation’s security and provide an important local presence in the communities in which they are located.

The Aerospace and Defense Committee has made advocacy a top priority. We believe that as a state, we must do a better job of promoting the assets we have.

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


Statewide meeting discusses strengths and opportunities in aerospace and defense sector

In June, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) held a statewide meeting with stakeholders in the aerospace and defense sector to discuss the strengths and opportunities for this industry throughout the state of Michigan.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was in attendance to kick off the meeting and express her support for the A & D industry. A key message was the need for a concentrated marketing message throughout the state for economic development and talent attraction. Some pillars of strength discussed – partnerships, manufacturing sector, infrastructure and higher education. Areas of focus for development were unified marketing strategy, messaging and funding resources.

Macomb County had a prominent presence with both the private and public organizations. If you are looking to get involved and help build the presence of A & D throughout the state and specifically within Macomb County, the Macomb County Chamber plays hosts to an aerospace and defense monthly meeting to share information across the industry, provide industry advocacy and build awareness. If you are interested in joining, send an email to


Kelley Lovati is the chief executive officer of the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce.


Two Macomb County companies are finalists to replace Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle





Two Macomb County companies have been chosen by the U.S. Army as finalists to replace the 1980s-era Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, bringing new 21st-century capabilities and transforming Army operations for the future.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation said General Dynamics Land Systems and American Rheinmetall Vehicles, two Sterling Heights-based companies, have already created digital designs for the Army as part of the competition. They will now create up to 11 prototypes for testing. Following detailed design and prototype build and testing phases, the Army intends to select one of the competitors by the end  of fiscal year 2027, with plans to equip the first unit by fiscal year 2029.

According to the Army, the two firm-fixed price contracts for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) Phase III and IV Detailed Design and Prototype Building and Testing phases are valued at approximately $1.6 billion total. The Army is redesigning the OMFV program as the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle (XM30) bringing an emphasis on modernization by investing in new technologies and reducing risk for its soldiers.

According to Reuters, the deal could be worth up to $46 billion, presenting a transformational opportunity for the Macomb County-based companies and the state’s role in supporting and transforming the defense industry.

The XM30 is expected to have a hybrid-electric engine, carry up to six passengers and include a 50-millimeter turret-mounted gun, as well has other machine guns and anti-tank weapons. The Army said some of the functions of the vehicle would be autonomous.


Macomb County receives $145,000 defense grant

Macomb County has received a defense grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which will allow the county to continue promoting its status as a statewide leader in defense.

The $145,000 Defense Industry Growth Area Grant will allow the county to continue its defense sector talent outreach program, marketing to top engineering schools in the country to retain and attract talent to local defense industry jobs. It will also allow the county to build upon its Macomb MARZ (Macomb Automation Robotics Zone) program by purchasing new equipment and materials, and to continue operating its International Landing Zone at the Velocity Center in Sterling Heights.

“We are the leaders in defense in Michigan, and we are making sure we have visibility at all the important events, and have a home for foreign companies looking to expand in the United States through the International Landing Zone,” said Jack Johns, the economic program director for Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED). “We also have strong programming for MARZ and will be adding additional equipment.  We will be reaching out to engineering schools in and outside of Michigan to retain and attract engineers to Macomb County for the many open positions in defense related jobs.”

MARZ, a non-profit partnership between Macomb County, the Macomb Intermediate School District, Macomb Community College and the city of Sterling Heights, is a robotics center for collaboration and innovation.  MARZ provides STEM opportunities for young people focused on automation and robotics and gives them an opportunity to be mentored by industry professionals.

The International Landing Zone allows international businesses with no existing facilities in the United States to integrate into the region with access to local assistance and free collaboration space for up to six months.

The remainder of the grant funding will ensure MCPED’s presence at important annual statewide aerospace and defense events to conduct industry engagement and outreach. That include the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual meeting in October in Washington D.C.


Guardian Angels completes another successful fundraiser to provide service dogs for veterans and first responders


The Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs organization used the anniversary of D-Day, June 6, to raise money for veterans and first responders who are in need of service dogs.

The Guardian Angels “Celebrate Michigan’s Military” event took place at the Fred M. Alger Center at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. 

More than 430 guests viewed the newly installed Les Braves II: At Water’s Edge monument. The 25-foot by 50-foot stainless steel monument is a twin to the Les Braves monument that sits on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, and is dedicated to those brave men who lost their lives on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The guests contributed to the service dogs program.

According to Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs Regional Coordinator Mary Lamparter, Celebrate Michigan’s Military started nine years ago. Since then, more than $1.4 million has been raised through the CMM event. 

Guardian Angels, a nonprofit organization based in Florida, is dedicated to rescuing, raising and training highly skilled medical service dogs for people with visible and unseen disabilities. It costs more than $25,000 to raise and train the dogs for up to two years, depending upon the skill set that they are best suited for.

The dogs are donated at zero cost to their recipient who, upon completion of their application, evaluation and acceptance in the program, spends 10 days at GAMSD headquarters. They learn how to work with their dog, interact with the public, and learn what it means to be the animal’s caregiver.

 “It’s an amazing cause,” said Lamparter, who also speaks to organizations that want to learn more about service dogs. “I also try to get information out to the veteran community that we exist, and we’re here to help.”


SANG maintenance hangar project designed to attach future missions


Selfridge Air National Guard Base broke ground on a $28 million maintenance hangar project in May, an addition that is viewed as critical to the future of the base.

According to a story penned by, the state is focused on bringing a new fighter jet to the base, and the maintenance hangar project will make SANG a more attractive landing spot.

This spring, Selfridge was not selected for the foreign military sales pilot training mission that would have ultimately brought F-35s to the base for that specific training mission. But SANG remains poised to host a F-35 mission or perhaps the F-15EX, both of which would maximize the use of the established infrastructure and enable the cost-efficient transition of skills and knowledge.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has pledged close to $100 million from the state for facility and infrastructure improvements at Selfridge, depending upon a future fighter mission at the base.

The recently passed state budget includes $10 million for a runway extension at the base. Penny Carroll, the 127th Wing chief of public affairs, said the base is in the early stages of design for the runway extension

Over the next five to six years, the United States Air Force plans to retire its fleet of aging A-10 Warthog fighters. The A-10’s have been a critical part of the mission at SANG for the last several years.

Winning another fighter jet mission could be critical to Selfridge, which supports upwards of 5,000 jobs.


127th Wing units win two awards


Two departments within the 127th Wing Airmen at Selfridge Air National Guard Base have been honored with awards of excellence.

The 127th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Fire Department has been named the top, mid-sized fire department in the Air Force. This marks only the second time an Air National Guard unit has been awarded this prestigious title. Selfridge, located in Harrison Township, also won the first for ANG in 2005.

The staff of 47 civilians and 32 military members was instrumental in supporting the 2022 Selfridge Open House and Air Show, coordinating firefighters, medics, advanced life support and medical aid tents for the safety and well-being of more than 100,000 people in attendance. Also last year, the group’s annual golf outing raised $50,000 for Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, its largest donation that year. 

Selfridge firefighters regularly responded to emergencies both in and outside the base. The unit fulfilled 62 mutual aid requests supporting four adjacent jurisdictions outside the base during the past year, ranging from fires, to medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, rescue calls, and incidents involving hazardous materials. Firefighting Airmen from Selfridge were heavily involved with training seven Latvian firefighters on aircraft emergency egress actions as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program. And, firefighters from Selfridge were also on scene for safety and possible emergencies during the 2022 U.S. Highway 28 landing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula when the 127th Wing conducted the Air Force's first highway landing integrated combat turns.

The unit now moves on to compete at the Department of Defense level against other military service branches.

The 127th Forces Support Squadron’s Services team received the Air National Guard’s Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney Award for operating the best dining facility in the ANG. 

The Disney award is presented annually and honors the late Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney, a services superintendent in the Tennessee Air National Guard known for providing outstanding customer service. According to the award citation, “achieving success in the Disney competition is a reflection of pride, commitment and motivation to be the best.”


State awards $2 million to Arsenal of Innovation


The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has awarded $2 million to the Arsenal of Innovation Fund’s  general fund to expand research and development around mobility in the defense industry and support innovation of new mobility-defense technologies.

The funds will support future mobility and electrification projects.

Click here to see the rest of the budget.


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 




Sept. 5-7

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

Oct. 4

Air Force Association of Michigan (AFA) Business over Lunch

Oct. 11

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

Nov. 1

Air Force Association of Michigan (AFA) Business over Lunch

Nov. 8

Macomb County Chamber 2023 Aerospace and Defense Committee Meeting

Dec. 6

Air Force Association of Michigan (AFA) Business over Lunch

Dec. 13


If you have an event coming up in 2023, please contact us and we can include it in an upcoming newsletter.



Defense industry consortium expands operations at Velocity Center


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