Automation Alley’s trade mission program reaches milestone: $1 billion in export sales for Michigan companies

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June 18, 2018
Media Contacts: Nicole Kampe, Automation Alley,, 248-457-3301; Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications,, 248-260-8466
TROY, Mich.--- June 18, 2018 --- Automation Alley, Michigan’s leading technology and manufacturing business association, announced today that the total amount of export sales made by Michigan companies as a result of participation in its trade mission program and other trade-related activities has reached $1 billion.
The award-winning program, funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), began in 2001 with a goal of helping Michigan companies expand their products, services and technologies into new high-growth markets. Since that time, Automation Alley has led a total of 33 trade missions to regions around the world, including Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. To date, representatives from 310 Michigan companies have participated in Automation Alley’s trade missions, and a total of 5,766 high-paying, high-valued added jobs have been directly and indirectly created as a result.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, trade-related jobs pay on average 14 percent more than jobs dependent on domestic sales only. And given the globally competitive nature of international trade, employees associated with companies that export are generally more skilled, talented and innovative.
Automation Alley and the MEDC have twice been honored by the White House for their significant contributions to increasing American exports, first in 2008 with the “E” Award for Export Service and again in 2013 with the “E Star” Award for Export Service. The “E” Awards are the highest honor presented to exporters and the organizations that support them.
“Our world-class trade mission program continues to deliver results for companies across Michigan. We are extremely proud of reaching this milestone and look forward to continued success as we help local small and medium-sized businesses go global,” said Tom Kelly, Automation Alley’s executive director and CEO. “Automation Alley's success in the areas of trade and, for that matter, foreign investment does not occur in a vacuum. Our organization is fortunate to be strongly supported by our economic development partners including the MEDC, the U.S. Department of Commerce and local economic development organizations.”
“MEDC has partnered with Automation Alley on more than a dozen trade missions since 2012. We are grateful for their team’s high-quality coordination and organization of these missions, which have produced such positive results for Michigan’s businesses,” said MEDC CEO Jeff Mason. “We commend them for reaching this impressive milestone and look forward to partnering with them on future missions.”
What makes Automation Alley’s trade missions unique is the amount of pre-planning and preparation that goes into every detail by the International Business team.
“Our staff handle all mission-related planning and details before, during and after the mission. All Automation Alley trade missions include hotel accommodations, internal transportation, matchmaking meetings, business briefings, welcome receptions and cultural tours,” said Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of International Business Services. “In addition, trade mission prices come at a significant discount to Automation Alley members.”
Automation Alley works with organizations such as the U.S. Commercial Service and the MEDC to arrange in-country matchmaking meetings with potential business partners, buyers and end users of the participating companies’ products, services and technologies. 
Prior to each mission, Automation Alley holds country-specific workshops to inform interested companies about the challenges and opportunities of doing business abroad.
Jon Rimanelli, CEO of Detroit Aircraft Corporation, joined Automation Alley’s trade mission to the Dubai Airshow in 2015 to offer their Defense Grade sUAS VTOL Quad Rotor to qualified customers in the Middle East.
“The organizers with Automation Alley provided a VIP experience through coordination of accommodations, dinners, transportation and coordinating high-level meetings with potential partners and customers,” Rimanelli said. “We were successful in establishing a distributor in the Middle East and selling aircraft systems.”
John Gelmisi, director of business development for Detroit Engineered Products (DEP), joined Automation Alley’s trade mission to the Paris Air Show in 2017. The company was able to generate several quotes for the Turkish Rail and Automotive industries and expects aerospace opportunities to materialize because of their drone engineering capabilities.
“Automation Alley does a good job of helping companies analyze opportunities and the prospects for success,” Gelmisi said. “I was impressed with their ability to educate themselves about my products and services and discuss the pros and cons of various trade missions.  I’ve always appreciated the honesty shown by Automation Alley when evaluating how to spend our marketing and sales funds and being available to review the process with DEP one-on-one.”
From a domestic perspective, Gelmisi said, it’s more cost effective and a bigger time savings to meet U.S.-based companies at trade shows during a single week than traveling throughout the country during the course of the year.
“France has a huge aerospace cluster and we see many opportunities there and throughout Europe and Asia,” Gelmisi said. “DEP was very strongly supported by Automation Alley and the MEDC during the preparation, travel and at the Air Show, as all logistics were very smoothly coordinated. As a group representing the state of Michigan, we had better access to high-profile aero clusters.”
In September, Automation Alley will lead a trade mission to India. Participating companies will travel to New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune to attend matchmaking meetings with potential buyers, end users and key industry players. Participation is limited to 10 companies. The cost to participate is $4,500 for Automation Alley members and $5,500 for non-members. That price includes internal country flights, hotels, a welcome reception and dinner, tours, business briefings, matchmaking meetings and internal transportation.
To register, or for more information about Automation Alley’s trade mission program, contact Automation Alley’s International Business Services Manager Lisa Lasser at or 248-457-3283.
About Automation Alley
Automation Alley  is a nonprofit technology and manufacturing business association and Michigan's Industry 4.0 knowledge center, with a global outlook and a regional focus. We connect industry, academia and government to fuel Michigan's economy and accelerate innovation. We offer programs and services in business growth, entrepreneurship, talent development, defense and international business, providing resources and knowledge to help our members grow and prosper in the digital age.
Our Mission
The mission of Automation Alley is to position Michigan as a global leader in Industry 4.0 by helping our members increase revenue, reduce costs and think strategically during a time of rapid technological change.
Nicole Kampe, Communications and Media Manager, 2484573301