The automotive industry is a key target for economic developers looking to grow the economy and employment in their region. Automaker and supplier facilities typically offer above-average pay and benefits – and deep automotive supply chains bring the potential for additional investments to follow. Automotive assembly plants, perhaps the holy grail of the economic development world, typically create ten additional jobs in the overall U.S. economy for each job at the plant. The automotive industry is therefore likely to remain a critical part of the economic development portfolio of communities around the country.
CAR’s Automotive Communities Partnership (ACP) helps communities both retain their existing automotive endowment and also attract new automotive investment. The ACP began with an initial grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in 2002, with an official kick-off meeting held in 2003 at the General Motors global headquarters in Detroit. The program is now supported completely through membership dues from communities and companies. Members include state economic development agencies, city and county economic development groups, utilities, railroads and logistics firms, as well as other stakeholders with an interest in automotive economic development.
ACP functions as an economic developer’s gateway to CAR, with data, industry intelligence, in-person meetings, webinars, and customized research and member support. ACP is home to CAR’s Book of Deals automotive investment database – a unique repository of North American automotive investment information. Members receive a monthly update of the latest automotive investments, as well as an annual summary. While the ACP member website provides members with many of these resources, CAR staff are always available for assistance.
For most of its history, ACP only accepted member communities from the U.S. Midwest states and Ontario. That changed in 2018, when the program expanded nationwide. The first community to join from outside ACP’s traditional footprint was the Greensboro Randolph Megasite in Randolph County, North Carolina. Walter Sprouse, President of the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation, stated that “The Greensboro Randolph Megasite is proud to be the first Southern member of the ACP. We see our membership as a key part of our strategy to attract automotive investment to our region.” CAR looks forward to including additional members from throughout the U.S. and Canada.