Macomb County officials are celebrating the establishment of a new defense business incubator while fighting to retain aircraft at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, the director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the adjutant general of the state's Army and Air National Guard, will visit Selfridge to discuss proposed changes that would impact missions at Selfridge and a National Guard base in Battle Creek.
"I will not rest until Washington understands the reality of what is being proposed," Vadnais said in a release. "Anyone who takes just a few minutes to look at the metrics will agree that the absolute smartest fiduciary practice would be to embrace and grow organizations like the National Guard who complete missions identical to their full-time branch cohorts—but at significantly less cost to the country."
Air Force officials proposed changes last week that would retire 286 aircraft and their accompanying missions over the next five years. This would include removing A-10s fighters stationed at Selfridge and C-27s from Battle Creek. The 127th Wing at Selfridge would gain four additional KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft under the proposed plan.
As officials lay out the importance of the fighters at Selfridge, Macomb County business leaders and government officials opened the Michigan Defense Center (MDC) at Velocity, in Sterling Heights.
The Michigan Defense Center, which is part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, relocated from Lansing to Macomb County to connect the defense industry with Michigan-based companies.
Over the past decade, Michigan businesses have been awarded more than $41 billion in Department of Defense contracts, according to an analysis by the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.
Macomb County received 63 percent of those contracts.
“Macomb County is the heart of our defense industry so it makes sense that this is the new home of our state’s defense center,” said Michael A. Finney, MEDC President and CEO, in a release. “This is a sector that is ripe for economic gardening opportunities, and we will continue to work with our partners to grow Michigan businesses and new jobs.”
The Velocity center is also home to Oakland University’s Macomb-OU INCubator as well as the OU Pawley Lean Institute and OU Center for Robotics and Unmanned Intelligent Systems (CRUIS).
“I applaud the governor and MEDC President Mike Finney for their decision to locate the Michigan Defense Center here at Velocity,” said Mark A. Hackel, Macomb County Executive, in a release. “This resource helps to create powerful synergy in our efforts to sustain and grow our prowess as the defense capital of the Midwest.”