Troy-based Automation Alley’s Trade Mission Program Reaches $1B in Total Export Sales Made by Michigan Companies


Automation Alley, a technology and manufacturing business association in Troy, Monday announced 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 program is funded by Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) and began in 2001. Its goal is to help Michigan companies expand their products, services, and technologies into new high-growth markets. Automation Alley has led a total of 33 trade missions to regions around the world, including in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Representatives from 310 Michigan companies have participated in the trade missions, and a total of 5,766 jobs have been directly and indirectly created as a result.

“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,” says 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.”

Automation Alley and the MEDC have been honored twice by the White House for their contributions to increasing American exports. In 2008, they earned an “E” Award for Export Service and an “E Star” Award for Export Service in 2013. The “E” Awards are the highest honor presented to exporters and organizations that support them.

“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,” says Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC. “We commend them for reaching this impressive milestone and look forward to partnering with them on future missions.”

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.

“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,” says Noel Nevshehir, director of International Business Services at Automation Alley. “In addition, trade mission prices come at a significant discount to Automation Alley members.”

John Gelmisi, director of business development for Detroit Engineered Products (DEP), joined Automation Alley’s trade mission to the Paris Air Show in 2017, where he generated several quotes for the Turkish Rail and Automotive industries.

“Automation Alley does a good job of helping companies analyze opportunities and the prospects for success,” says Gelmisi. “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.”

Gelmisi says meeting United States-based companies at trade shows during a single week rather than traveling the country over the course of a year saves time and money.

“France has a huge aerospace cluster, and we see many opportunities there and throughout Europe and Asia,” Gelmisi says. “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. For Automation Alley members, the cost to participate is $4,500. For non-members, it is $5,500. The price includes internal country flights, hotels, a welcome reception and dinner, tours, business briefings, matchmaking meetings, and internal transportation. For more information or to register, contact Lisa Lasser, International Business Services Manager at or (248) 457-3283.

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