Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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A front row seat to the auto industry’s comeback

by Candice Miller on January 15, 2015

By Candice Miller

http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/01/15/detroit-auto-show/21776219/

On Monday, I traveled down a snow-covered I-94 from my home in Macomb County to Detroit and the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center.

The trip took about an hour in conditions that were challenging but perfectly passable in my roadworthy Ford C-Max hybrid.

Think about that for a second. A journey of nearly 45 miles that a century ago — when what was then called the Detroit Auto Show was in its infancy — would have taken several hours of tedium and discomfort was accomplished in mere minutes of relative ease.

It reminded me again that the invention of the automobile and its development here in southeast Michigan has been a boon to civilization and some of the values we hold most dear: individual autonomy, mobility, freedom of expression and economic progress.

And as I toured this year’s auto show, I was reminded that that progress continues apace. The 2015 show is a remarkable display of technology, design and imagination, showing once again that we live in the heartland of American and international innovation.

From the first Technology Showcase and its mind-bending array of new applications integrating automotive and information wizardry, to showrooms full of exciting new concept and production vehicles, the NAIAS is a marvel. All housed in a Cobo Center that has undergone a $300-million renovation that puts Detroit and its signature industry on spectacular display.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of the auto industry and the people who make its products possible. Only a few short years ago, this industry and those people were on the brink in the midst of the worldwide financial crisis — selling fewer than 10 million units and courting bankruptcy. In 2014, they sold an impressive 16.5 million units, with more of the same expected in 2015, demonstrating the resiliency and resourcefulness of American manufacturing.

The renaissance of American manufacturing continues across our region and in the congressional district I represent. In just the last year alone, a series of automotive suppliers — Paslin Co. in Shelby Township, LTC Roll & Engineering in St. Clair County, Yan Feng USA in Harrison Township, Eissmann Automotive in Port Huron and Magna Exterior Trim Components in China Township — have announced expansions supported by the Michigan Strategic Fund that will result in millions in investment and the creation of hundreds of jobs. Also, we’ve witnessed the re-emergence of Chrysler’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which was facing closure just a few short years ago. Since then, not only has it survived, it has added shifts and workers to produce the Chrysler 200.

The auto industry is back. And there’s no better place to witness its comeback — and reflect on its immense contribution to our lives — than the Detroit auto show.

Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, represents Michigan’s 10th District in the U.S. House.

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