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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. 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.

I want to tell you about a great success story coming out of Battle Creek’s Downtown Transformation Initiative: the Global Food Protection Institute. 

Muskegon’s Blue Economy future?

Written by | Monday, 06 February 2012 12:22 |

Muskegon is sitting on a gold mine, and it is colored “blue.” That is a major part of the message that John C. Austin, director of the Brookings Institution Great Lakes Economic Initiative, delivered to the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 27. Austin joined W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research’s George Erickcek in a joint presentation on Muskegon’s economic outlook.

Fast-track growth that powered the American economy in the 1990s has vanished, but business leaders determined to increase sales and hire more employees can achieve their dreams by “growing global.”

The $100,000 was nice. But just as valuable to Barry Nowak were the connections he made by participating in the 2011 Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest, an annual business plan competition that provides capital to young businesses in the state that can prove their mettle to judges.

Parting Shots - Mitten Power

Written by | Monday, 23 January 2012 11:22 |

Speaking of action, it is beginning to look like federal leaders should actively turn their solution-searching eyes toward Michigan, where a notable economic turnaround is underway and gaining traction, sparked in large part because of our simmering manufacturing renaissance.

Companies in West Michigan have been increasingly focusing on how to help ex-criminal offenders, some of the region’s most disadvantaged workers, find a path to meaningful employment.

The return of the charitable tax credits. Community foundations along with public museums, universities, food banks and many others have been able to offer their donors credits to their Michigan Income Tax liability.

David EislerElection years can be years of inaction as politicians are focused more on running for office and posturing for votes than on actual governing.

Some of the best business lessons come from making mistakes. Others come from recognizing prior bad experiences or maturing as a manager or as a company.

Don’t believe the Mayans

Written by | Tuesday, 10 January 2012 10:14 |

Happy 2012. While the Mayans are predicting really bad things for this year, we’re actually pretty bullish on the economy and opportunities for growth over the next 357 days.  Maybe it’s because we’ve been listening to local executives, economists and business owners rather than consulting a 5,125-year calendar. Whatever the reason, we’re glad to be off and running with our first edition of the New Year.

Over the next 12 months, Michigan’s and the nation’s economy should continue to improve. Many auto industry companies are making solid profits. They made consolidations and cuts. They should be able to hire more workers in 2012. The housing market may continue to lag. Banks may continue to use tight lending practices. Those factors could hamper the economy. So it is unlikely 2012 will be much better or different from 2011.

The U.S. economy has grown in slow fits and spurts since bottoming out early in 2009, and that trend is likely to continue in 2012. Neither the Federal Reserve nor Washington’s politicians have any magic bullets to juice the economy. Instead, growth will be organic, generated internally by businesses and other employers as they respond to pent-up demand and higher levels of consumer confidence.

By encouraging a dialogue about multicultural inclusion, the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau wants to tell the world the city is “open” for business for all community groups.

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