WSW: WMU Teams Find Savings in Detroit

Aug 4, 2014

City of Detroit employee Lori Sowle, WMU Instructor Ken Jones, City employee David Shackleford and recent WMU graduate Hanna Downs
City of Detroit employee Lori Sowle, WMU Instructor Ken Jones, City employee David Shackleford and recent WMU graduate Hanna Downs
Credit Western Michigan University

When Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was looking for ways to save money on city operations, faculty and students from Western Michigan University became part of the solution. 

Two teams from Western studied various functions in the city and came up with a plan that could save up to $2-million a year. WMUK's Gordon Evans spoke with Ken Jones, an instructor of integrated supply in WMU's Haworth College of Business and recent Western graduate Hanna Downs, who now works for General Motors. 

The teams focused on improving efficiency at two vehicle facilities. Jones says the Western teams focused on systemic issues such as purchasing and repair turn around times. He says this is the first phase in a complete overhaul of the systems. Jones says there is potential for more savings. 

WMU students Leo Bieniek and Hanna Downs with Detroit mechanic Eugene Curry
WMU students Leo Bieniek and Hanna Downs with Detroit mechanic Eugene Curry
Credit Western Michigan University

Jones says the people they worked with in the city of Detroit were professional and striving to make improvements. He says the Western team was welcomed by city workers. Downs agrees, saying the city workers showed tremendous pride in their work and in the city. She says workers wanted to hear advice on how they could do their job better. 

Asked if other cities can learn from Western's work in Detroit, Jones says "absolutely." He says what is taught in the Haworth College of Business can be applied to municipalities as well as in the private sector. Jones says he would like to work with other universities to help local governments.