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Futurist Lou Glazer Here Wednesday in County Session on New Economic Agenda

Interactive Session to Involve Local Leaders in Planning for the Future

June 25, 2006       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Futurist Lou Glazer has written seven reports on Michigan's future.

Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-profit Ann Arbor "think tank," will speak Wednesday 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. in the DoubleTree Hotel - Bay City Riverfront and will lead a discussion on the economic future of the state and Bay region.

The program has been arranged by County Executive Thomas L. Hickner and Laura Ogar, director of Environmental Affairs and Community Development. Luncheon reservations at $7.95 per person may be made by calling Cynthia Gaul at 895-4135.

The main question to be explored, Mr. Glazer says, is:

"What really matters in better positioning Michigan and its regions for success in a knowledge-driven and entrepreneurial economy?"

Mr. Glazer is a no-nonsense "urban planning theorist" who tells it like it is: "The industrial world is disappearing. I'm talking about realities, not just projections."

He recently completed a report funded by the Mott Foundation and others entitled "A New Agenda for A New Michigan." It is his seventh report on the future of Michigan. He holds two degrees from the University of Michigan and formerly was deputy director of the Michigan Department of Commerce.

A main conclusion: "The only reliable path to a high-prosperity Michigan is to be concentrated in knowledge-based enterprises." In human resource terms, TALENT.

"The places with the greatest concentration of talent win," he said. Mr. Glazer said Michigan needs to keep its talented young people in the state, rather than see them exported to areas of creative concentration like California, Chicago, New York and elsewhere.

Other Michigan agenda items, according to Mr. Glazer's recommendations, include:

  • "Resist the pressure to save jobs and enterprises that are no longer competitive;

  • "A cultural shift that instills a love of learning that begins in K-12 education and lasts a lifetime is critical in a world where economic growth is driven by knowledge and innovation;

  • "Kindling entrepreneurial spirit, not only starting up new businesses but rejection of thinking of employment as a long-term entitlement. Instead, competition and constant reinvention of one's career would become the norm;

  • "Be welcoming to everyone. Successful places attract people from all over the planet. Outsiders are important to the economic and cultural mix. We must develop a culture that celebrates diversity and nurtures tolerance."

    As for other strategies touted by politicians and candidates, Mr. Glazer says: "There's no evidence that tax-cutting will ever work as an economic development strategy."

    Mr. Glazer takes a cue from Thomas Friedman's best-selling book "The World is Flat." In the book Friedman describes 10 forces that "flattened the world," pointing to the social and technological changes personified by cell phones, the Internet, open source software and electronic communication.

    The state's largest cities, Detroit and Grand Rapids primarily, are the key to new strategies, according to Mr. Glazer.

    In a recent editorial, the Flint Journal hammers Detroit: "The city's solvency is questionable, violent crime is rampant, the schools are losing students by the busload, poverty is overwhelming and its ability to attract the college educated is abysmal." Detroit ranks 68th among 70 large cities with just 11 percent of its residents over age 25 with a four year degree, Mr. Glazer said.

    The Flint Journal commented: "Michigan parents have known for some time that their sons and daughters no longer can go from high school into a factory job for life, but this state as a whole has not adjusted to what this new employment reality now requires."

    The newspaper editorial continued: "Yet Michigan's state and suburban governments for decades have done little to combat this urban disintegration, and city politicians have even taken advantage of this disinterest by playing their own power games."

    According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Bay City has 12.8 percent of persons age 25 or over with college degrees while Michigan has 24.1 percent. One former community leader privately expresses "distress" over those statistics and others showing the city with a 5 percent loss in population while the state gained 6.9 percent, median household income $30,425 compared to $44,667 statewide and 14.6 percent poverty rate compared to 10.5 percent for Michigan.

    Median value of owner-occupied housing is listed for Bay City at $65,700, while it is $115,600 for Michigan.

    "These are the issues we need to address as a community," says Mr. Hickner. "I hope there is a good turnout for Mr. Glazer's important presentation so we can do some critical brainstorming about our future."

    The report is available at


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    Dave Rogers

    Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
    respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
    (Contact Dave Via Email at

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