Expanding economic data insights help drive decisions

Expanding economic data insights help drive decisions

Dr. Jonathan Silberman and Tom Kuslits seated at a table in front of a sign that reads Economic Data Center
“This information is invaluable to businesses, auto manufacturers as well as the supply chain, when making decisions on location, expansion, hiring and pay.” Tom Kuslits, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer of Commercial Banking, Flagstar, with OU's Dr. Jonathan Silberman (left)

Economics professor Jonathan Silberman, Ph.D., is banking on opening more eyes to Michigan’s fertile business landscape.

As director of Oakland University’s Southeastern Michigan Economic Data Center (SEMEDC), Dr. Silberman and his team deliver up-to-date statistics on the regional economy, offering insights and analysis on everything from the labor market and employment to consumer prices and earnings.

The value of the SEMEDC team’s ability to distill economic data efficiently and thoroughly captured the attention of Flagstar Bank. The state’s largest savings bank, with corporate headquarters in Troy, Michigan, is partnering with OU’s School of Business Administration as the presenting sponsor of SEMEDC.

“Flagstar Bank sponsors this good work because we understand how sound economic, demographic and business information helps advance the conversation about the Southeast Michigan region and can aid many interested parties in making better decisions based on sound data,” says Tom Kuslits, executive vice president and chief lending officer for commercial banking at Flagstar.

Deeper analysis, insight
The partnership allows Oakland’s SEMEDC to complete more data crunching, including deeper analysis of key industries, especially home sales, mortgage markets and commercial real estate transactions. Kuslits was impressed with Dr. Silberman’s autonomous patent analysis, which focuses on autonomous vehicles. It shows the number of patents issued for vehicle control, guidance and navigation in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor, revealing the area leads all other U.S. regions in those categories, including those on the West Coast.

“This type of information is invaluable to businesses, auto manufacturers as well as the supply chain, when making decisions on location, expansion, hiring and pay,” he says. “It’s all about insight.”

Not only does the association with OU’s SEMEDC provide value to current and future Flagstar clients, Kuslits also believes the partnership casts Flagstar Bank in a new light.

“We are a nationally recognized leader in the mortgage industry, and we’ve become a very powerful competitor in the commercial space. While our customers and our competitors recognize this, the broader population probably doesn’t perceive Flagstar as a business bank,” he says. “Sponsoring Oakland’s Economic Data Center is a meaningful way to demonstrate Flagstar’s commitment to the health and prosperity of Southeastern Michigan.”

Increased opportunities 
The undergraduate students who work at SEMEDC are another winner in this partnership, Dr. Silberman points out.

Oakland business students now have more opportunities to get hands-on experience as a result of Flagstar’s involvement.

“They are exposed to different data, data they’ve never encountered, and are learning how to process it,” Dr. Silberman says. Furthermore, students boost their resumes by using SEMEDC’s secret weapon: cutting-edge technology and advanced software.

This technology empowers the SEMEDC to continuously update data and conduct real-time analysis, offering the most accurate picture of the local economy, Dr. Silberman says. 

Expanding reach 
Flagstar is leveraging its marketing reach, sharing these economic insights with key audiences, spreading awareness of the valuable data available through Oakland’s SEMEDC.

As part of the partnership, Flagstar is repackaging the information and adding compelling graphics to share with its various audiences on its powerful social media channels, explains Dr. Silberman. This helps build awareness and identity.

“Oakland University’s name will be on every social media message that goes out,” Dr. Silberman notes. “That helps the University with its mission to increase its community engagement.”

Dr. Silberman finds the Flagstar partnership personally rewarding. “I’m learning a lot. The partnership is helping me think about things I normally wouldn’t have thought about,” he says, citing everything from social media metrics to designing a homebuyer’s index that can be easily updated and packaged for readers.

Get more analysis from Oakland’s SEMEDC at oakland.edu/semedc.