Domestic and Foreign Business Investment in Oakland County Tops $575 Million for 2019

Autoliv conducts research to test its seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels. The company reports that more than three airbags or seatbelts from Autoliv have been delivered to every vehicle produced globally over the past decade. Photo by Trever Long

Oakland County attracted $575 million in domestic and foreign business investment in 2019, with 41 percent coming from companies headquartered outside the United States.

Investment came from companies who moved to Oakland County, expanded existing operations or were foreign-owned companies opening new operations in the county. The figures were compiled by the county’s Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs, which worked on the projects with the companies.

“Our proximity to universities and the auto industry, a talented workforce, a reputation for innovation, and quality of life continue to attract and retain domestic and foreign-owned companies,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said.

Significant investment was made in advanced electronics and control systems, where 16 projects resulted in investment of nearly $200 million. Three of those projects: expansions by Japanese automaker Nissan in Farmington Hills and Swedish supplier Autoliv in Auburn Hills, plus the attraction of German Lithium Ion battery maker Akasol in Hazel Park, accounted for $135 million of total investment and nearly 700 new and retained jobs.

Photo courtesy of Nissan

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Oakland County in 2019 was $234 million from 54 separate projects, accounting for more than 2,400 new and retained jobs. The county has realized more than $1.7 billion in foreign investment over the past six years, which created or retained more than 24,000 jobs. Foreign direct investment is defined as investment from a company headquartered outside the United States.

To attract business investment, the county’s business development team works closely with prospective companies helping with site selection, workforce development and financing strategies, and coordinating state and local incentives. The team activity focuses on advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences and information technology companies as well as traditional businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We have a team of experts who keep the line of communication open with companies, as well as coordinate additional necessary resources to ensure we are there not only at the start of a project but also as we walk it through the finish line,” said Ryan Cram, manager of business development at Oakland County.

The countries of origin for 2019 international business successes are: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. More than 1,000 international firms from 39 countries have business locations in Oakland County.

In 2019, the county’s business development team had representatives traveling around the country as well as 12 international visits to promote increased attraction to Oakland County.

Other significant investment in 2019 came from:

  • Henry Ford Health System (U.S., $70 million)
  • Production Tool Supply (U.S., $69 million)
  • Enova Premier (U.S., $40 million)
  • Webasto Roof Systems (Germany, $40 million)

The total investment from those companies was $219 million, resulting in 481 new or retained jobs. The county attracted 37 projects of at least $1 million each.

The most successful sectors in total investment from 2004 to present are Medical Main Street/health care ($1.3 billion); advanced electronics and control systems ($1.2 billion); Tech248/communications and IT ($851 million); alternative energy ($635 million); advanced materials, chemicals and nanotechnology ($419 million); and aerospace ($409 million).

In 2020, the county business development team will be attending trade missions, investment summits and trade shows located in key FDI countries such as Germany, Japan, China, France, Canada, India and Italy to tout the advantages of locating in Oakland County.