With many team members looking to learn more about what life is like in Southeast Michigan, we are sharing an overview of the area and its many unique appeals, as presented in Erlanger by Ann Arbor SPARK, the regional economic development agency.
More than 170 team members attended the Erlanger sessions earlier this year. With a wide range of topics discussed, we asked the agency to come back and provide more in-depth information about education, which they presented last month. (A video and the presentation from that session are in the resource section below).
Toyota’s York campus is located about 10 miles south of Ann Arbor. The SE Michigan area offers a rare combination of slower-paced living, open space, big-city amenities and world-class higher education opportunities. Ann Arbor and many of the surrounding communities, including Saline where the Toyota campus is located, have repeatedly earned accolades for an impressive range of attributes including overall quality of life and being a good environment in which to find jobs and grow a business; take a look at this list of recent rankings.
So what makes this area special? Here are some highlights, courtesy of Ann Arbor SPARK:
- Economy: The area offers one of the strongest, most resilient economies in the Midwest.
- Although geographically small, SE Michigan is renowned for its cultural offerings including music, dance, theater, film and the visual arts. In Ann Arbor itself, more than 30 independent bookstores, dozens of unique galleries, and a variety of top-notch museums – including the newly-renovated University of Michigan Museum of Art — are all within the downtown limits. The award-winning Ann Arbor Art Fairs draw an annual crowd of nearly 500,000 as the streets of downtown are transformed into an outdoor art gallery. Nearby Ypsilanti is also known for its vibrant arts scene and being a foodie destination in its own right.
- Speaking of food, dining aficionados will appreciate the nearly 300 restaurants within a 20-mile radius of Ann Arbor. Options range from old-fashioned Italian bistros to trendy, contemporary American restaurants. Many offer alfresco dining in the warmer months.
- The area also offers a bounty of recreational activities for those looking to golf, hike or cycle. There are more than 140 city parks, public golf courses, ice arenas, swimming facilities, botanical gardens, nature trails, as well as more than 50 lakes and rivers! Just this year, Ann Arbor was named #6 Best City for Well-Being by Gallup and Healthways based on how local residents perceive their overall well-being.
- Education. There is a reason why Ann Arbor was recently named the most intelligent college town in the nation. According to SPARK, more than 64 percent of city residents have four years of college or more. With an economy largely driven by the University of Michigan, the city’s culture is immersed seamlessly into the intellectual climate of the famous academic institution, which has an impressive number of Nobel Laureates, Rhodes Scholars, and MacArthur fellows to its credit. A short drive away, in Ypsilanti, you can find Eastern Michigan University. In Washtenaw County, home to Ann Arbor and the Toyota campus, there are nine K-12 school districts, 12 charter school academies, as well 27 private schools; 84 percent of high school graduates in the county pursue higher education. The county boasts the highest mean ACT scores in the state, with 10 high schools ranked in the top 5 percent in the state by U.S. News and World Report. For more information, take a look at the Washtenaw County education overview presentation available in the Additional Resources section below.
- Housing: The local real estate market is vibrant and offers a broad range of options, for both renters and home owners. Be sure to check out our Did You Know: Finding a Home in Southeast Michigan article for more information about the various neighborhoods in the area and useful data from the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors.
- Significant local employers: Washtenaw County’s biggest employers include University of Michigan Health System; University of Michigan; General Motors Proving Grounds; Ann Arbor Public Schools; Thomson Reuters; Faurecia Interior Systems; CitiMortgage; Citizens Insurance Co.; Truven Health Analytics; DTE (energy provider). Growing and incoming companies include Google, Barracuda, MyBuys, NWP Services Corporation, and many more.