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One of the things that’s talked about a ton is the perception of the state, city and region. After all, there’s a lot of money and effort spent by government, businesses and others to influence and help shape how the country sees us.

But, what is that perception, specifically when it comes to jobs? After all, there’s so much focus by the mainstream media on the splashes high-profile people and companies like Dan Gilbert make (because by putting the name in there, like we just did, more people will pay attention), when it’s nowhere near the entirety of the picture.

The 2017 Automobility Career Perception Survey put together by MichAuto, a project of the Detroit Regional Chamber, sampled 900 youth (ages 17-24) and adult influencers both inside and outside of Michigan. Influencers, to be clear, were defined as parents with kids ages 12-17, adults in leadership roles of youth organizations, high school and college-level educators, career counselors and academic advisors.

It was presented today at the MichAuto Summit in Midtown, Detroit.

Michigan has some significant work to do when it comes to national perceptions around having innovative companies in general. From those in the state, the data is better.

41% of Michigan youth respondents believe that innovative companies are in Michigan, while only 4% of those nationally.

When it comes to influencers, 54% of Michigan-based ones say those companies are here, where 5% nationally think that.

Regardless, California leads the pack.

What about Ann Arbor and Detroit? Turns out, again, that the perception shifts depending on whether you’re from the state or not from the state.

Autonomous Opportunity

Diving deeper into autonomous vehicles — a growth area of the future and the focus of a lot of investment — it’s interesting in that there isn’t a perceived place leader for the industry among the majority of respondents. According to the survey creators at MichAuto, this provides a real opportunity.

More than half of both youth (57%) and influencers (53%) say that they don’t know which location in the United States that they would choose as leading the development of autonomous/driverless vehicles.

Ford also stands in good stead. Although Tesla and Google are the top two companies that both youth and influencers think are leading the development of autonomous/driverless vehicles, Ford comes in at number three.

Our Two Cents: When it comes to the future of the region, our ability to not only go with the flow but lead the pack when it comes to autonomous vehicles, ridesharing, apps, all of that — it’s going to be crucial for our future. Not only the investment, but talent staying in the state and attracting more people to the region that as far as population has stayed basically flat for most of the last half century.

Ed Note: Today we’re live blogging from the 2017 MichAuto Summit at the College for Creative Studies.