Greenfield Village

The North American International Auto Show will be starting at Detroit’s Cobo Center in a couple weeks, and anyone who cares about cars can go see virtually every new model in existence.

This has been an annual tradition for more than a century. But I’ve thought for a long time that we don’t do nearly enough to celebrate the amazing heritage of our signature industry.

Think about it. Motor vehicles, primarily cars, are what transformed Michigan from a farm state not all that different from Iowa into the industrial powerhouse that put the world on wheels.

That’s fascinating, and there are few of us whose lives are not connected to the auto industry in some way.  But where do you go to learn about and celebrate that heritage? Sadly, fewer and fewer places.

President Obama last came to Michigan in January when he visited the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to give a speech on college affordability.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, today's trip will be a short, but organizers hope it will be lucrative:

The President will hold the first of two fundraisers at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

That happens to be where Republican rival Mitt Romney launched his first Presidential campaign in 2007.

Then Mr. Obama will head to a private fundraiser hosted by Detroit businesswoman Denise Ilitch.

Organizers hope the two events will help raise more than $1 million in campaign funds for the President and other Democrats.

So far, Mitt Romney has raised more cash than Obama in Michigan. That could change after today's visit.

CBS Detroit reports around 600 people are expected at Mr. Obama's event at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, and attendees are paying "$5,000 to have dinner with the president and get a photo, $1,000 for a VIP rope line to shake his hand and $250 to attend."

The Denise Ilitch event will feature Michigan products, including white fish, vegetables, home brews, and Motown music. Participants will pay $40,000 for a cocktail reception and $10,000 per person for a dinner and candid photo.