As Cobo Hall receives its first day of crowds for the North American International Auto Show, the excitement–and the economic impact–spills over into Dearborn. And Mayor Jack O’Reilly, for one, is happy about it.
Local auto-related attractions such as the and –have been gearing up to be the go-to places for out-of-towners to get some extra auto action. Dearborn hotels have also been prepping for extra business–some even adding incentives to entice visitors to stay there.
“The North American International Auto Show starts this Saturday!” reads a Jan. 10 Twitter message from , a Dearborn luxury hotel. “The Henry is offering a complimentary shuttle for all guests and the public.”
Further down Michigan Avenue, the displays its usual January signage, welcoming NAIAS visitors to stay there.
For hotel business, O’Reilly said he believes the impact of the auto show is less today than it was half a decade ago.
“The city of Detroit has added thousands of hotel rooms over the last five or six years–with the casinos and the Book Cadillac, with all that,” he said. “What’s happened is there are more venues in downtown Detroit now than there were previously by a considerable margin, and that clearly can impact our ability to get people to stay here, just because there’s a convenience factor.”
But Dearborn has its own offerings to auto show visitors, including the largest one-city collection of history about an auto industry pioneer.
The name Henry Ford is synonymous with Dearborn, and it shows in the, the Henry Ford Museum, the –the list goes on. It’s not something the city takes lightly–especially during times like the auto show, when good news abounds for the industry.
“When you think about Dearborn and our status as a true base (for Ford)–which includes everything from ownership to design to engineering, product development, testing and production–we’re pretty unique,” O’Reilly said. “I think that alone is a statement about our relationship to the auto industry.”
“We take great pride in it,” he added. “In Dearborn, there’s a tremendous amount of pride in being the hometown of Henry Ford.”
And in being one of the sites for new job growth for Ford Motor Company, including numerous engineering jobs expected to come to the city in the near future.
Ford Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. announced Jan. 10 that more than 7,000 hourly and salaried positions were to be filled by the company over the next two years. About 750 of those will be salaried, and of those, most will be in Dearborn.
To O’Reilly, however, the announcement didn’t come as much of a surprise.
“We knew that within the next several years, they were going to make a substantial investment (in the Ford Rouge Plant) for the next evolution of product, and that’s a very positive sign,” he said. “So we knew there would be jobs attached to that. We’re very pleased.”
Ford is also actively recruiting engineers at the Auto Show to work on development of its electric vehicles, which will also bring new Ford employees to Dearborn’s engineering and development offices.
“The last period that we went through was extremely painful for us as a company and for me personally,” said Bill Ford to the Detroit Free Press. “I know many of the families and to me Ford is a big family company. And that’s why it feels so good now to be adding jobs.”
It’s good news for Ford during Michigan’s most exciting auto week of the year, and that means good news for Dearborn.