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Intel Quarterly - May 2024

Message from Vicky Rowinski


Welcome to the spring edition of the A&D Intel Quarterly newsletter.

We at Macomb County Planning and Economic Development are fresh off attending the 15th Annual Michigan Defense Expo (MDEX) hosted at Macomb Community College and there was definitely an air of excitement at that event.

MDEX is considered to be one of the premier Department of Defense buyer/supplier events in the country. It brings together key players from the military and the defense industry. Approximately 3,000 people attended the event. MDEX is a unique mix of networking, educational briefings and support for the vibrant defense community in Michigan. Congratulations to the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) – Michigan Chapter for hosting another great event! Save the date for next year’s MDEX event April 8-10, 2025.

There was also quite a bit of buzz in the room at MDEX about the establishment of the new Office of Defense and Aerospace Innovation (ODAI). Long known as the “Arsenal of Democracy,” Macomb County stands to benefit from the formation of the ODAI, to help feed its large aerospace and defense supplier base.This office builds on the legacy of the Michigan Defense Center, increasing awareness of Michigan’s capabilities, supporting attraction and expansion of future missions and businesses opportunities. 

As we look forward to the warmer weather of summer, excitement is growing for the annual Selfridge Open House and Air Show on June 8-9. This year’s event theme is, “Innovation Focused: STEAM Driven,” and will include a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics expo dedicated to enriching the audience’s experience through hands-on exhibits. In addition, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are headlining this year’s aerial display. It’s always a treat when the Thunderbirds make an appearance. So don’t forget to attend this year’s Air Show.

Lastly, we continue to expand our reach into the A&D community by featuring a Q&A session with Aerospace Association of Michigan (AIAM) President Tony Vernaci. Tony joins our pair of regular contributors, Kelley Lovati, president and CEO of the Macomb County Chamber, and Patrick Rouse, the director of workforce and continuing education, engineering and advanced technology for Macomb Community College.

We hope you enjoy the 2024 spring edition of the Aerospace and Defense Intel Quarterly newsletter and please feel free to reach out if you have any stories you would like us to include.

Success stories

Prosper-Tech prospers with I4.0 technology

Prosper Tech exterior

A 43% increase in sales would be a dream scenario for most companies.

But for Prosper-Tech Machine & Tool in Richmond, investing deeper into Industry 4.0 technology has made that dream a reality.

In 2022, Prosper-Tech received a matching $12,000 Industry 4.0 implementation grant by connecting with the Macomb County Economic Development team.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation grant helped the company purchase a MES/ERP (manufacturer enterprise system/enterprise resource platform) that manages company operations. 

The system has been running since March 1, 2023. Since then, sales have increased dramatically, and the company has increased employees to support this growth.

CEO Heidi Devroy said the system has allowed operations to move more efficiently, with a history of every part. It includes such things as time,profit, and root cause analysis as well as trends.

It was literally a jump from Excel sheets and clipboards to I4.0 technology.

“It was getting extremely hard to manage our operations, and we weren't able to grow. It’s made an unbelievable difference and allowed us to grow,” Devroy said.

Prosper-Tech has also increased its level of capital investment, which has allowed for additional capacity.

“We can play in the big leagues now,” Devroy said. “We’re able to work with prime customers. It makes us more legitimate.”

Partner stories

Macomb Community College leads the charge in electric vehicle safety training for aerospace and defense sector

Patrick Rouse

As the demand for electric-powered solutions surges, particularly in sectors such as aerospace and defense, the need for skilled professionals trained in electric-vehicle safety becomes paramount. 

The shift toward alternative fuels within the aerospace and defense sector is unmistakable. From the integration of electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft to the development of hybrid-style tanks, industry players are actively exploring ways to reduce reliance on traditional fossil fuels. This transition not only aligns with global sustainability goals but also can enhance operational efficiency and strategic capabilities.

Recognizing the emerging trends, Macomb Community College has proactively developed comprehensive electric-vehicle safety training programs. These initiatives are part of a broader effort to support the state’s electric vehicle training agenda, positioning Michigan as a hub for cutting-edge electric vehicle technologies. 

While development of these courses focused primarily on electric vehicles, it’s important to note that many suppliers within the aerospace and defense industry also operate in the mobility sector. As companies begin to transition towards the electrification of aerial and ground vehicles they support, the principles taught in these courses are transferable and invaluable.

The electric vehicle safety training offered by Macomb Community College is designed in collaboration with the state of Michigan’s Talent Action Team and subject matter experts. The curriculum encompasses three key areas:

  1. Practical Training in Electric Vehicle Systems: These courses provide experience in the theory and basic design aspects of battery-powered vehicle propulsion systems. Participants delve into topics such as high-voltage batteries, regenerative braking, electric machine motor types, power management and safety procedures. With an emphasis on safe handling of high-voltage DC and AC systems, technicians are equipped with essential skills to work confidently with electric vehicles, ensuring both operational efficiency and safety.

  2. Electric Vehicle Safety in the Manufacturing Environment: An introduction to AC motors and AC motor controls forms the core of these courses, supplemented by fundamental concepts of electricity and magnetism. Topics include traction motors, adjustable frequency drives, and MATLAB and Simulink modeling of various electric vehicle components. By addressing safety considerations specific to the manufacturing environment, participants gain insights into integrating electric vehicles into production processes effectively, fostering a culture of safety and innovation.

  3. Advanced Electric Vehicle Technician Training: These courses and labs delve into advanced topics such as rechargeable batteries for mobile applications, hybrid systems and connection to the smart grid. Hands-on lab sessions provide practical experience in battery testing, maintenance and diagnostics. By equipping technicians with in-depth knowledge and practical skills, this course prepares them to tackle the complexities of electric vehicle technology with confidence and precision.

Macomb Community College’s electric-vehicle safety training represents a significant milestone in the journey toward a sustainable and technologically advanced aerospace and defense sector.

As the industry continues to embrace alternative fuels and electric-powered solutions, the importance of robust safety training is needed to remain at the forefront. With its comprehensive curriculum and industry-aligned approach, Macomb Community College empowers professionals to confidently embrace the electric vehicle revolution.

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

Macomb County Chamber of Commerce Aerospace and Defense Committee 2024 update

Kelly Lovati

As we conclude the first quarter of 2024, it felt timely to provide an update on the work of the Macomb County Chamber’s Aerospace and Defense committee. 

Most notably, our new chairperson, Carrie Mead, Detroit Arsenal garrison manager, took over the post in January.

The committee also played host to monthly speakers to discuss key issues and trends impacting the aerospace and defense industry in Macomb County. 

Our speakers this year have included:

  • January – Deb Staller, National Guard Association of Michigan
  • February – Brig. Gen. Michael Lalor, commanding general, US Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) and senior commander of the Detroit Arsenal
  • March – John Stolz, civilian operations director, 2024 SANGB Open House and Airshow
  • April – Misty Martin, chair of National Defense Industrial Association’s Michigan Defense Expo (MDEX)

In addition, our legislative staff keeps us updated on policy, talks and NDAA status each month. We will continue these updates throughout the year, which are excellent opportunities to hear and share the policy movement influencing the industry.

As we move forward through 2024, we are working to develop the voice for Macomb County in the overall scope of Michigan’s aerospace and defense landscape. 

From the valuation analysis conducted in 2023, we determined that our main focus areas are awareness and education, collaboration, marketing and message. We believe that Macomb County and the larger Michigan industry base must collaborate and create one voice for the aerospace and defense communities’; attraction, development and sustainability.

Our state legislators are working together on both sides of the aisle on the Defense Caucus. As industry leaders, we need to share our concerns and voice our opinions to influence business-friendly policy.

Looking ahead, the Macomb County Chamber’s Aerospace and Defense committee will strategically examine ways to promote our assets and attract more industry and talent. Some upcoming opportunities include the NGAM conference and the AUSA conference.

Our voice, however, is only as strong as the voices of those who participate. We encourage you to consider joining this committee. We meet on the first Monday of each month at 12:30 p.m. at DC3S Center for Collaboration and Synergy in Sterling Heights. Please reach out to me directly for more information at

Q&A with Aerospace Association of Michigan (AIAM) President Tony Vernaci

Vernaci Tony

Tony Vernaci is the president of the Aerospace Association of Michigan (AIAM). He has served in that role since 2017.

The Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan is a non-profit, member-driven industry organization. It is a platform for aerospace leaders in the state to work together on a common set of priorities to strengthen and support the continued growth in the industry through talent attraction and new investment in Michigan.

Prior to working at AIAM, Vernaci was vice president of global business development for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).


1. Tell us about the mission of your organization.

Our mission quite simply is to connect companies in Michigan to the global aerospace industry. The intent is to help them make connections with meaningful relationships so they can learn about opportunities in the industry and grow their business. 

Secondly, in Michigan it is no secret we are typecast as an automotive state. Many people outside of the state are under the impression that’s all we do. AIAM feels the aerospace industry is our sleeping giant, and we are working to bring the recognition to our aerospace industry so it is no longer Michigan’s best kept secret.


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

Over the past few years, we have recognized there is so much more we can do that will make a lasting impact for the industry and Michigan’s economy. Primarily that is in the area of talent development to help individuals in underserved and rural communities get a path into the industry. This will be accomplished through youth programs and providing scholarships.

The aerospace industry is experiencing unprecedented growth that is anticipated to last for decades. However, the industry is starved for suppliers to meet the increasing demands. Getting into the industry is not easy and requires more than simply receiving the AS9100 quality certification.  

AIAM is putting together a supplier development program to assist companies in that journey. The program will target companies from protected classes and those in underserved and rural communities.

In January 2023, we established a charitable foundation (the Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan Foundation), a separate 501c3, to raise the necessary capital that will enable programs such as these. More information on the AIAM foundation can be found on our website ( We are early in our journey, but we invite others to make donations and support the mission.


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

As with any non-profit, it is always a challenge to balance bandwidth and increase the resources necessary to get the job done. As an organization, we have been blessed to grow year-over-year, even during COVID when we experienced a 20% increase in membership. Our goal is not to sign up as many companies as possible but to provide quality service and value to our members.


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

The aerospace industry has been in Michigan for more than 80 years, dating back to World War II. 

This is when the Ford Motor Co. showed the world how to build an aircraft on an assembly line. The synergies and commonalities between aerospace and automotive that made this possible continued when the war ended. Today, Michigan has more than 900 companies and organizations that are impacting the global aerospace industry. Macomb County is home to many of these amazing companies that are critical to the industry.


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

Meeting the unprecedented demand, controlling costs, and developing new manufacturing methods to become more efficient and mitigate the ongoing labor shortage are our most important issues. The aerospace industry typically has more labor hours and needs to integrate more automation to provide consistency in quality and reduce costs.

Featured articles

Fifteenth annual MDEX is a success

Vicky Rowinski at MDEX 2024

Michigan Defense Exposition, or MDEX, had another successful run at the Macomb Community College Expo Center in Warren on April 23-25.

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) hosted MDEX, what is considered a premier Department of Defense buyer/supplier event. The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) was a partner in the event. 

The event brings together representatives from TACOM (U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command), Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support, Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems, Army Contracting Command-Detroit Arsenal, Ground Vehicle Systems Center, Next Generation Combat Vehicle-Cross Functional Team and other organizations, along with key players in the defense industry.

As part of the informative, three-day agenda, MCPED led a Talent Attraction Roundtable discussion. The department shared new workforce data, as well as updates on its digital attraction campaign. From fall 2023 to spring 2024, the advertising campaign ran in markets with large populations of STEM workers across the United States. The initiative has been a success - with nearly 95,000 clicks, 10.8 million impressions and 191,000 website views.

New office of Defense and Aerospace Innovation will enhance state’s defense and aerospace ecosystem

Michigan has created a new Office of Defense and Aerospace Innovation (ODAI), which will help grow the state’s defense and aerospace industry.  

ODAI will build on the storied legacy of the Michigan Defense Center, increasing awareness of Michigan’s capabilities, supporting attraction and expansion of businesses that champion Department of Defense-related activities, and enhancing commercial and defense-related aerospace segments poised for growth. 

“For years, Macomb County and our partners across the region and state have helped protect and grow the defense industry,” Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said. “Through private sector innovation and installation modernization we have positioned ourselves as the defense center of the Midwest. With the announcement of the creation of the Office of Defense and Aerospace Innovation, we have made another major commitment to ensuring that we continue to protect those who protect us.” 

Col. John Gutierrez, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret) will serve as the new executive director. Col. Gutierrez has more than 30 years of experience in acquisition, operational, and joint assignments. He most recently served as the portfolio manager for Logistics Combat Element Systems, U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command. 

Learn more about the new Michigan Office of Defense and Aerospace Innovation and the state of Michigan’s robust defense industry.

Thunderbirds headline 2024 Selfridge Air Show


The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds headline the 2024 Selfridge Open House and Air Show on June 8-9, hosted by the Michigan National Guard’s 127th Wing.

This year’s event theme is, “Innovation Focused: STEAM Driven,” and will include a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics expo dedicated to enriching the audience’s experience through hands-on exhibits. Notable participants include NASA’s Glenn Research Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

In addition to the Thunderbirds, other aerial demonstrations include the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, Bill Stein Airshows, Franklin’s Flying Circus, A-10 Thunderbolt II, KC-135 Stratotanker, the Misty Blues parachute team, U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin, Swamp Fox and his P-51 and F-86 aircraft. 

There will be ground displays showcasing dozens of military vehicles, including the 127th Wing’s own aircraft, U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook and numerous military ground vehicles. 

Visit to start planning your visit. 

Current opportunities

State accepting applications for Going Pro Talent Fund

Applications will be accepted through May 10 for the Going PRO Talent Fund.

The Going PRO Talent Fund makes awards to employers to assist in training, developing and retaining current and newly hired employees. Training funded by the Talent Fund must be short-term and fill a demonstrated talent need experienced by the employer. Training must lead to a credential for a skill that is transferable and recognized by industry.

The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity-Workforce Development (LEO-WD) awards funds to employers through Michigan Works! Agencies (MWA).The amount requested cannot exceed $2,000 per person or $3,500 per U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) Apprentice.

Eligible employees include:

  • Permanent, full-time employees
  • Employees that work primarily in Michigan, and for whom the employer pays all applicable taxes to the state of Michigan
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Citizen or legally authorized to work

For more information, contact Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) at 586-469-5285, email or reach out to one of our Economic Development representatives.

Upcoming events of the quarter

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

2024 Events Date
AFA - MAMA AA-BoB Lunch May 10
Women in Defense (WID) MI Superstar Networking May 16
AFA-MAMA, virtual meeting May 16
AIAM She Innovates She Leads: Inspiring Change for a Sustainable World May 18
AFA - MAMA AA-BoB Lunch May 24
AUSA Golf Outing (DTA Cup) May 31
The Selfridge Air National Guard Base Open House and Air Show June 8-9
AUSA Army Birthday Ball  June 14
AIAM's 7th annual Golf Outing June 17
Women in Defense (WID) Golf Outing July 21
Ground Vehicles Systems Engineering & Technology Symposium (GVSETS) Aug. 13-15
EANGUS 53rd Annual Conference Aug. 18-21
NGAUS 146th General Conference & Exhibition Aug. 23-26

If you have an event coming up in 2024, please contact us and we can include it in an upcoming newsletter.

Connect with us

As the economic development representatives for the aerospace and defense industries in Macomb County, we invite you to contact us to learn more about what we're doing to support our A&D business and how we are connecting them to programs that help them grow.

Curt Chowanic

Todd Seibert

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Department:Planning and Economic Development