Oakland Press: North American International Auto Show puts strong auto sector on display

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Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

It has been several years now since Michigan has come out of the “Lost Decade,” in which job numbers plummeted and residents fled the state. We have now had six straight years of economic recovery, averaging more than 74,000 new jobs per year over that span. Michigan remains the Comeback State.

Historically, of course, the engine that has driven our economic success has been the auto industry.

For several decades, beginning in the early 20th century, Detroit hosted a regional auto show. In 1989, thanks to a forward-thinking group of auto dealers within the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, the show was opened to an international audience, and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) was born.

Nearly three decades later, the NAIAS has become the most prestigious auto show in the world, allowing the general public and industry experts alike access to tomorrow’s vehicles, displaying the most innovative automotive technology on the planet.

This year’s show runs from Jan. 9 through Jan. 24 at the Cobo Center.

The kickoff event known as The Gallery was held on Saturday, Jan. 9 at the MGM Grand Detroit, showcasing a nearly $7 million collection of ultra-luxury automobiles, such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Rolls Royce.

Next came three preview events: Press (11th and 12th), Industry (13th and 14th), and Charity (15th).

Finally, the NAIAS concludes with the Public Show, from Jan. 16 through Jan. 24. This part of the show allows everyone to see up close and personal the future of the industry.

During the public portion of the show, visitors are able to see the latest and future automotive technology and designs, including product demonstrations. This part of the show kicked off on Jan. 16 with the annual Auto Show 5K run, which wound its way through Detroit, along the riverfront, and across the Dequindre Cut.

Activities during the Public Show include:
•    American Red Cross Blood Drive. Both walk-ins and scheduled appointments are encouraged for the blood drive, with the final day on Jan. 23.
•    Cars on Parade. The NAIAS will feature a parade on the main show floor at 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. daily. Each parade will feature a host of ultra-luxury automobiles and local personalities from television, radio and sports.
•    MLive Day and NAIAS Photo Contest. MLive celebrated the 2016 North American International Auto Show on Jan. 16 and is holding a photo contest throughout the show.
•    Military Day. To honor those who serve our country, military personnel and veterans received a ticket discount on Jan. 19.
•    NAIAS Education Days. Held on Jan. 20 and 21, Education Days provide an opportunity for school groups of all ages to learn more about the automotive industry through tours and hands-on activities.
•    The Detroit Tigers Winter Caravan. On Jan. 22, fans of the Detroit Tigers will have the chance to see some of their favorite players, including Victor Martinez, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander.
•    WXYZ Family Day. This year’s Family Day is Jan. 22. The day will feature 7 Action News celebrity appearances, family-fun activities and musical performances.

I encourage everyone to make it down to the Cobo Center for the final days of this year’s auto show. If you do I am convinced that, like me, you will be encouraged by the health of our automotive economy and by the latest trends in the industry.

Michigan remains at the forefront of this sector of the economy. With a continued emphasis on technology development and an economic environment supportive of the industry, Michigan’s future is bright.

This column first appeared in the Oakland Press. Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is co-chairman of the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.