Detroit Economic Club Brings Members, National Manufacturing Speaker to OCC

The Detroit Economic Club brought back its in-person meetings and nearly 180 manufacturing and business leaders to Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus

The Detroit Economic Club (DEC) hosted the President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Jay Timmons, with a robust discussion on “Competing to Win: Manufacturing in America.” According to its website, the Washington D.C.-based association represents 14,000-member companies, from small business to global leaders, and works for the success of nearly 12.9 million workers in the U.S. 

The October 18 meeting was the first to be held at Oakland Community College in the DEC’s 88-year history. The club was formed in 1934 as a platform for the discussion and debate of business, government and social issues.  

Econ Club at OCC
OCC Chancellor Peter Provenzano and National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons pose with area students at the Detroit Economic Club meeting held on the Auburn Hills campus.

DEC President and CEO Steve Grigorian opened the meeting by welcoming members and guests, including students from Brother Rice High School, sponsored by Ford Motor Company; two groups of students from Oakland Technical Schools, sponsored by OCC and Dow Chemical; and two groups of students from OCC, sponsored by Dow Chemical and Accenture. He also recognized OCC and thanked Chancellor Peter Provenzano, DEC board member and presiding host of the event.  

Provenzano said he was thrilled to “host leaders like Timmons, the NAM and DEC to the College to see the amazing work being done at the College, share the vision for a new advanced manufacturing technology center, and discuss the amazing things happening in manufacturing across the state and nation.” 

Addressing the hometown crowd, Timmons recognized Michigan’s leadership in manufacturing with 600,000 jobs across the state. He pointed to OCC and community colleges across the country in powering the future of manufacturing in America and equipping people with the necessary skills for meaningful careers as creators and innovators. With over 800,000 job openings nationwide, he also shared the workforce crisis for talent with six job seekers for every 10 jobs open in the U.S. 

He talked about opportunities to strengthen the manufacturing sector as an industry that is resilient and resurgent leading the future. He addressed the need to keep up with the world around us and at the speed of change. He also spoke to innovation and the incredible advances happening across the country and in Detroit. 

Timmons also addressed the way forward through responsible mineral and energy exploration; efficient electronic usage and storage; domestic deployment of energy efficient technologies and support their development globally; expedite the legal and regulatory processes to pioneer the advances here to sell around the world; and “smart” about any new regulations. He talked about tensions in the world, manufacturing in the U.S., the skills needed in the workforce and the need to educate and empower students to learn these skills. 

“Jay reinforced where things are headed and the dependence on training at the community college level,” said Beau Everitt, OCC Dean of Engineering, Manufacturing and Industrial Technology. “It reinforced our commitment to students, partnerships with industry, and our vision for physical facilities and renovations.” 

Timmons remarks were followed by a “fireside chat” with Grigorian to answer questions from the audience and concluded with questions from Provenzano in a lightning-round style and accelerated tempo. Timmons’ unfiltered responses in this latter format revealed his fascination with garbage truck mechanics and desire to be a waste hauler at a young age; quips about Washington D.C.; recent reads (Confidence Man, The Divider and Betrayal); and advice to his 25-year-old self with, “Be authentic. Be yourself. Follow your passion.” 

After the program, attendees toured OCC’s Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and Skilled Trades facilities, led by OCC’s team in EMIT and Workforce Development. 

Listen to the full meeting online at

About OCC  

Offering nearly 100 degrees and certificates, OCC is Michigan’s largest multi-campus community college and one of the top transfer institutions in the state. The College provides academic, career training and enriching experiences, designed to empower students to reach their potential and enhance our community. More than 1 million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. A seven-person Board of Trustees governs OCC. Board members are elected on a non-partisan, at-large basis, serve as volunteers and are not paid. Mission statement: OCC is committed to empowering our students to succeed and advancing our community. Learn more at 



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