Automatic success Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

For Automation Alley’s Ken Rogers, it’s all about vision.

“Knowing where you want to go and what you want to become is what will get you there in the end,” Rogers says. “No one stumbles upon their goals — they first dream them and then take active steps to make them reality.”

Rogers has that vision as executive director of Automation Alley, an organization of leaders from all backgrounds and business sectors who combine talent and energy to transform Southeast Michigan into a high-tech powerhouse.

Rogers came to the organization in 1999 with no funding and no staff members, facing nearly insurmountable obstacles.

But as the sole member of the staff, he believed in the project, envisioning Automation Alley with a strong member base of about 200 companies, a huge increase from its modest 44 starting members.

Within a few years, his vision had been surpassed and the bar had been raised. With more than 8,200 tech companies in the region, the Southeast Michigan area is the fifth-largest R&D hub in the region, giving people a strong reason to stay in Michigan.

Beyond attracting participants, Rogers wanted to make sure companies would have a high rate of return on investment and a reason to stay in the region. By bringing together tech companies, government and education entities and making partnerships happen, Automation Alley members see a huge return on investment, helping it grow to more than 700 member companies to date, with Rogers envisioning an organization that will eventually reach 1,000 members.

HOW TO REACH: Automation Alley, (248) 457-3200 or