When Pfizer announced it would be cutting 2,400 Michigan
jobs, the three universities partnered with community, government and business leaders to organize rapid response action teams to retain the talented Pfizer work force in the state and to help find new uses for Pfizer’s 177 acre Ann Arbor campus. U-M President Mary Sue Coleman also announced the investment of $3 million to create new faculty positions to hire talented Pfizer workers.
U-M and Ann Arbor SPARK announced in October 2007 they have transformed Pfizer’s former Traverwood facility into a wet lab incubator and are already filling the facility with four startup company tenants and other researchers. MSU has similar plans for a larger former Pfizer facility in Holland. In December 2008, U-M reached a deal to purchase the rest of Pfizer’s Ann Arbor campus to turn it into a new research campus, creating 2,000 new jobs. The deal is expected to close in June 2009.
SPARK is establishing two additional office incubators in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Altogether, SPARK is working with 31 startup businesses that have or plan to move into one of their three business accelerators.
In 2005, the federal base closure commission debated whether to close the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, home of TACOM and more than 4,100 jobs. The URC universities plus many other in-state universities each have research projects working with federal and private industry researchers. They joined with private and public officials in making the case for the value of keeping TACOM Instead of cutting jobs, the base closure commission voted to save those 4,100 jobs and move more than 1,000 jobs from other states to Michigan, citing the “critical mass” of research expertise from universities and private industry.