Collective power of business: ensuring the auto industry remains vibrant.

Author:Blouse, Dick

If there ever was any doubt that the Detroit Region needs to do a better job telling its story about the progress and innovation happening here, the congressional committee hearings that dominated the national news coverage last month should lay this notion to rest. For us who live and work in the Detroit Region, it was painful to watch politicians from other parts of the country castigate an industry that is integral to our community. Equally frustrating was the apparent lack of understanding of how crucially important the American auto companies, suppliers, dealerships and supporting businesses are to our national economy.

The Detroit Region certainly has its challenges. We have been grappling with an economic downturn for many years. Yet we have been able to make great strides to begin to revitalize and diversify our economy under these tough conditions. More needs to be done, but the region is hardly the downtrodden, stuck-in-the-past rustbelt place that was being portrayed by some in Congress and the national news media.

Nor are the American automakers producing gas-guzzling, pollution-emitting relics of days gone by. Today's vehicles are the most technologically-advanced, mass-produced consumer goods in the world. And contrary to popular sentiment on Capitol Hill, the Detroit Three have been restructuring their business models to bring their companies in line with a rapidly changing marketplace. More restructuring needs to happen and new technologies, such as advanced batteries, need to be developed--executives from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are the first to acknowledge this point--but steps have been taken to revive the domestic automakers in a down economy.

During the contentious congressional hearings, it became clear senators and representatives needed to hear the other side of the story. The Detroit Region's business community rallied behind the auto industry. We activated our national grassroots organization, the...

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