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Friday, 10 February 2012 11:15

Business leaders outline state’s assets

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MICHIGAN — The newest ideas from a coalition of corporate CEOs and university presidents seek to build on what Michigan already does well to drive employment and economic growth in the years ahead.


  1. Engineering talent
  2. Geographic location
  3. Higher education system
  4. Natural resources
  5. Automotive industry
  6. Health & medical expertise
  1. Global engineering village
  2. Gateway to the Midwest
  3. Higher education marketplace
  4. Natural resources economy
  5. Global center of mobility
  6. Life sciences hub


Building on Michigan’s engineering and logistics acumen; growing the life sciences sector further; boosting agricultural processing and exports and tourism; strengthening higher education; and leveraging the auto industry’s legacy for new forms of transportation are the key elements of a “New Michigan” strategy rolled out by Business Leaders for Michigan.

If the New Michigan goals are achieved, the economic impact will result in 200,000 to 500,000 new jobs and an $18,000 increase in per-capita personal income for the state over a decade — and that’s on top of the normal growth rate, the group estimates.

“We believe these are the best opportunities for creating good-paying jobs and strengthening our economy,” Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said last week as Business Leaders for Michigan rolled out the new ideas. “Our vision is to do a better job of building what’s already in Michigan (and) our existing assets to take advantage of global trends.”

Business Leaders for Michigan added the ideas to its Michigan Turnaround Plan first introduced in late 2009. The plan seeks to return Michigan to the position of a top 10 state nationally in economic and job growth. The five-step Turnaround Plan focused mainly on fiscal and structural reforms for state government.

After achieving about half of its initial goals, including the repeal of the Michigan Business Tax, Business Leaders for Michigan sees now as the right time to broaden its agenda with ideas that are much more private-sector driven and require a private-public partnership approach.

Doug Rothwell“This is an agenda for all of Michigan,” Business Leaders for Michigan CEO Doug Rothwell said. “It’s a to-do list for us. This is not something government can do. It’s not something business can do. It’s going to require a lot of work.

“It’s a to-do list for all of us in this community to work on.”

The group will continue to promote the remaining reforms in the Turnaround Plan while pushing the new goals, he said.

Highlights of the New Michigan initiative are:

  • Make Michigan a “global engineering village” and an engineering destination by branding the sector, growing engineering education and the number of engineering firms in the state.
    “The places that have the most engineering talent, you can bet they are going to be the most competitive places in the world,” Steelcase Inc. President and CEO James Hackett said in a promotional video for the New Michigan plan.
    Hackett serves as a “champion” for the idea, along with Charles McClure, president and CEO of auto supplier Meritor Inc., whose responsibility it is to raise awareness around the state.
  • Make Michigan a “gateway to the Midwest” through a larger logistics base, the Aerotropolis initiative in Detroit and investing in key trade-related infrastructure such as bridges and rail.
  • Strengthen the quality, affordability, productivity and economic impact of higher education; grow university enrollment; grow and commercialize research and development that occurs at universities.
  • Grow agricultural processing and exports, grow tourism and lead the nation in alternative energy technologies.
  • Make Michigan a “global center of mobility” — an idea advocated by Ford — that leads the nation in sustainable mobility, multi-modal transportation systems and technology to improve road safety.
  • Create a larger life sciences hub in Michigan. Bill Parfet, president and CEO of Mattawan-based MPI Research, and Mike Jandernoa, a director at Perrigo Co. in Allegan, will champion that goal around the state.

Local business leaders in communities across the state can help to raise the visibility of the New Michigan ideas, Rothwell said. He urged them to “share it, talk it up, drive it home.”

Business Leaders for Michigan plans to host 15 regional public forums around the state to promote the ideas as well.

“This is just the beginning,” Rothwell said. “No one’s going to give us this growth. We have to earn it. We have to stay hungry as a state.”

Read 3744 times Last modified on Sunday, 12 August 2012 21:28