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What Can Save Michigan? Only Talent, Says Report by Michigan Future, Inc.

Place a Higher Value on Learning, Entrepreneurship and Welcoming All

June 22, 2010       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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What's the answer to Michigan's job losses and negative growth?

A new report by Michigan Future, Inc., entitled "Michigan's Transition to a Knowledge-Based Economy," found that from 2007 to 2010 low education attainment sectors such as manufacturing, construction, retail and hospitality lost significant numbers of jobs plus 13 percent of jobs were eliminated.

Bay County Executive Thomas L. Hickner has studied the report and is circulating it to local leaders. He commented: "Bay County and the Great Lakes Bay Region needs to follow the recommendations it presents."

"We have all the symptoms of decline in some parts of our region while other parts show the way to the future," said Mr. Hickner. "With a consistent approach we can all prosper together."

"Michigan's high education attainment industries decline is attributable to the job losses in the knowledge-based portion of the automotive industry," state the report's authors.

The report, released at the recent Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Mackinac Policy Conference, was the result of research conducted by Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future, Inc., along with Donald Grimes, senior research specialist at the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy at the University of Michigan.

By contrast, only 4 percent of high education attainment jobs in Michigan -- in fields such as health care, education, professional and technical services -- were eliminated.

"The message from the data is that the key to economic growth is talent," states the report. "Quite simply, in a flattening world, economic development priority one is to prepare, retain and attract talent."

Metropolitan areas are the key, say the report's authors, noting that Grand Rapids lagged behind even Detroit in knowledge-based industries concentration and college attainment.

But there is a path back to high prosperity, the New Agenda framework for action states, recommending:

  • "Build a culture aligned with (rather than resisting) the realities of a flattening world. We need to place a much higher value on learning and entrepreneurial spirit and being welcoming to all.

  • "Creating places where talent -- particularly mobile young talent -- wants to live. This means expanded public investments in quality of place with an emphasis on vibrant central city neighborhoods.

  • "Ensuring the long-term success of a vibrant and agile higher education system. This requires expanded public investments in higher education -- particularly the major research universities.

  • "Transforming teaching and learning so that it is aligned with the realities of a flattening world.

  • "Developing new private and public sector leadership that has moved beyond both a desire to recreate the old economy as well as the old fights. Michigan needs leadership that is clearly focused, at both the state and regional level, on preparing, retaining and attracting talent."

    The report pointed to Minnesota and Pittsburgh as examples to follow, while Indiana is the Great Lakes state with the lowest per capita income, the lowest percentage of college graduates in its population and an unemployment rate second only to Michigan.

    For a copy of the full report and more on Michigan Future, Inc., access ###

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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.
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