Published in Economic Development
Doug Rothwell, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan Doug Rothwell, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan Courtesy Photo

2018 Outlook: Doug Rothwell, Business Leaders for Michigan

BY Sunday, December 24, 2017 05:41pm

Michigan’s business climate has made great strides in recent years, but there’s still lots of work to do. That was the message delivered in late November by Doug Rothwell, the president and CEO of Detroit-based Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s business roundtable. Released at the organization’s annual CEO Summit, the latest Economic Competitiveness Benchmarking Report shows the state continues to make improvements in terms of jobs, income and productivity, but it still lacks in college and career readiness and educational attainment, for example. And while incomes have improved, Michigan continues to lag other peer states, according to the data.

“The good news is Michigan is a contender again. We’re back in the game, we’ve gotten our unemployment down to about the national average, we’ve been raising incomes and productivity at a rate faster than other states. The challenge we have is that we still have this income gap. We’re still about $10,000 per person lower than the top 10 states. A lot of the metrics, we’re really good on taxes, (but) we’re not as good on things like education, training and infrastructure. … It’s all about talent and more specifically about making sure the K-12 system is producing people that are able to advance their careers or their ability to go into college after they leave high school. We also need to make sure we have a higher education system that is doing a better job of getting people ready for careers … and is affordable for kids to be able to get to. Infrastructure remains an issue and it’s an issue in two respects. One is we need it for connectivity, but we also need to change the way we pay for it. Right now, we rely too much on general fund dollars, which takes money away from what (we) need: education and training. So we need to raise taxes for infrastructure and that will solve two problems.”

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