Monday, January 13, 2014

Positive buzz: The energy around the auto show infectious

The next couple of weeks are of huge importance to the state of Michigan, as the North American International Auto Show takes center stage in downtown Detroit.

The impact of the auto show goes well beyond the automobile industry, as every resident in the state of Michigan – and most certainly the tri-county area – are directly impacted by the fortunes of particularly “The Big Three.” As much as we talk about the need to diversify the state’s economy, the auto industry remains the 800 pound gorilla and the old saying “as General Motors goes, so does the state of Michigan” remains as true today as ever.

The near fatal collapse of the domestic auto industry literally led the state to the brink of financial ruin back in 2008-09, and I still shudder to think what would have happened if General Motors and/or Chrysler actually went out of business. The flip side, of course, is when the Big Three came roaring back it kick-started our economic recovery which continues today.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a “car guy.” I view cars as little more than a means of transportation and I will never be seen hanging out along Woodward Avenue during Dream Cruise month.

But I do understand and appreciate the unique relationship our state has with the auto industry and that our member businesses rely on the tens of thousands of residents whose income is either directly or indirectly derived from the industry. Just the anticipated profit sharing checks that are about to be distributed by the Big Three will have a huge impact on first-quarter sales as retailers and service providers roll out special advertising to lure a piece of the pie to their doors.

I am old enough to remember how the automotive press sneered at the cars being made in Detroit as unimaginative, unreliable and badly trailing the quality of vehicles being produced in Japan, Germany and elsewhere. Today, nothing could be further from the truth and a visit to the auto show will quickly change the mind of remaining skeptics. The playing field has leveled, and we all are direct beneficiaries of the “rebirth” of the domestic auto industry.

I plan to attend the auto show next week, even though I am not in the market for a new vehicle. There is so much positive buzz about our homegrown industry that the energy and excitement at the show is infectious and I want to be part of that celebration. And who knows, I might just come across something I can’t resist.

See you at the Auto Show!

Joe Bauman is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at

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