Calley touts defense jobs, benefits to Michigan

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Madison Heights — Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley visited an Oakland County defense contractor Tuesday to help draw attention to how not just Oakland County but the entire state benefits from billions of dollars in federal contracts each year.

Calley took a brief tour of Navistar Defense, where civilians and military employees are involved in work including technical manuals for military vehicles used in combat zones.

“Navistar is an example of how Michigan’s skilled engineering and manufacturing base is proving to be a valuable asset for companies working in the defense sector,” said Calley, who urged other businesses to seek help from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Defense Center and apply for defense contracts as part of the state’s “Protect and Grow” program.

“This is an exciting time with opportunity in Michigan ... every single county in Michigan has a piece of it (defense work),” said Calley, gesturing at a map highlighting 105,000 defense industry related jobs across the state.

The 90,000-square foot facility off Dequindre employs 106, according to Navistar director Sam Homsy, who acted as Calley’s guide, explaining work being done on the armor-plated Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to make them safer for troops. MRAPs, which weight between 14 and 18 tons, are 9-feet high and feature a V-shaped hull to deflect land mine explosions.

There are 17,997 defense industry related jobs in Oakland County with an economic impact of $1.5 billion to $2.2 billion, according to Irene Spanos of Oakland County’s Economic Development Division.

Macomb County, home to two of the state’s military installations — the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal and Selfridge Air National Guard Base — leads the state with 21,930 defense industry related jobs. There are 16,572 jobs in Wayne County, according to state figures.

Statewide, defense-related jobs generate $9.73 billion in income annually, with workers receiving an average salary of $76,707.

Calley described Michigan — which gained a reputation during World War II as the “Arsenal of Democracy” — as today’s “Arsenal of Innovation.”

“Seventy percent of everything a soldier shoots, drives, flies, eats or communicates with is contracted right here in Michigan,” Calley said.


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