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Planning and Economic Development

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eMacomb - Featured Article, Winter 2016

AGS recruits local refugees to fill workforce demand

AGS Automotive Systems is a full-service supplier that is well-known for their expertise in designing and manufacturing front and rear impact systems. In recent years, the company has made major investments in Macomb County, both financially and through community workforce development.

In 2012, the company was looking to expand. After considering several possibilities, they chose to create a major manufacturing plant in Sterling Heights. The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development (MCPED) worked closely with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the city of Sterling Heights to create a package of incentives and assistance to land this investment in Macomb County.

The $21 million investment by AGS included the purchase and restoration of a 360,000-square-foot vacant manufacturing facility and led to the creation of 90 new jobs over a two-year period. To fill their rapidly growing workforce needs, AGS turned to the local community, initiating a nontraditional recruitment process that benefitted both the company and the area residents. As a result, AGS’s employees come from a wide mix of cultural backgrounds which reflect those of the local community.

One example of AGS’s recruitment efforts is their partnership with Michigan Staffing, a local temporary staffing agency, to employ Iraqi refugees. Detroit’s suburbs have absorbed tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees in recent years after violence erupted in the wake of the war. The num­ber of Ir­aqi refugees ar­riv­ing in Michigan nearly doubled in the last four years, with 2,751 ar­riv­ing in 2014. Through Lutheran Social Services, many of these refugees have settled in Ster­ling Heights.

“We feel very fortunate that the needs of our organization and the needs of so many people in the community came together at the same time,” said Jennifer Rizk, human resource manager at AGS.

There were some initial challenges to overcome, not only due to the pace of the automotive business, but also from the perspective of bringing different cultures and languages together. Fortunately, several employees are bilingual. The new hires have embraced the company’s core values and have become outstanding leaders on the shop floor and in the business.

“Through teamwork, cooperation and by working to develop an understanding of each other’s needs and perspectives, we have been able to create a safe and productive environment that allows our employees to grow and develop,” said Rizk. “Their success is our success, and we are a better company for their being here.”

To learn more about other workforce recruitment and training options available to your business, contact MCPED at 586-469-5285 or by email at

About AGS Automotive Systems

AGS Automotive Systems is committed to delivering high quality, high value products to their customers. For 60 years, AGS has stood behind their belief in quality, technology and teamwork. They specialize in value-added engineering, metal stamping, plating, painting, and bumper system design and assembly for the automotive industry. For more information, visit their website at

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