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Some Suggestions for Michigan's Problems

Points to ponder:

--Latest blog post from Jeff Bocan, Assignment Detroit's venture capital friend, from the Huffington Post. He focuses on the wind industry in the Midwest.

--Great interview between Metromode and Terry Cross on "Reinventing Michigan's Economy." Cross serves as Wayne State University's first Entrepreneurial Executive in Residence. According to Metromode's News Editor Jon Zemke, "Cross spent years working Wall Street through the heyday of "Greed is Good" 1980s and more than a decade in the venture capital game in Silicon Valley during the 1990s and early 2000s." A good guy to talk.

--Another fascinating read from dBusiness, the business magazine arm of Hour Detroit. They have a long essay by Lou Glazer, president and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future's mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

A highlight:

What made us prosperous for nearly a century — an extraordinarily long run — was the abundance of good-paying, low-skill jobs, primarily in manufacturing. In a flattening world driven by technology and globalization, those jobs are gone forever. Unfortunately, with the continuing decline of the domestic auto industry, it's highly likely that Michigan will, in the next few years, fall to the bottom 10 states in per-capita income. This is a stunning collapse of what was one of the most prosperous states in the nation. To effect a turnaround, Michigan needs to confront some basic truths. First among them: high-pay, low-skill jobs aren't coming back. The auto industry will never again be the major engine of prosperity in Michigan. If the domestic auto industry survives the current downturn, it will be substantially smaller, employ far fewer people, and will pay its workers less (with fewer benefits).

Read more of his work here.

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  • 1

    What will "fix" the state? That may prove to be more difficult then we all expect. First off, a change of attitude is in order, with out that we will be doomed.

    We need to lose the entitlement attitude that we have, we have to relies that we will not get paid for under performing in the work place.

    We also have to start to value education, and demand that the teachers take their jobs seriously and actually teach our children.

    We need to start to be parents again, and demand that our children act respectful of them selves and to others as well.

    Once we achieve all of that then and only then will we be able to move forward to a better Michigan. The families that have already achieved this are leaving this state for greener pastures, no amount of think tanking from what ever group is going to bring them back here when there is no opportunity for personal growth or profitable growth.

    We hear about all number of nonprofits that are here to help pave the way to a brighter Michigan, and to be honest I don't see that happening any time soon.

  • 2

    In a previous post "Unfiltered: Why Detroit?" the comments section produced a discussion regarding the relative merits of suburban office parks vs downtown locations.

    As a firm believer that we need thriving and active downtowns to fix Michigan I thought your readers might enjoy this article. Here is a short excerpt

    "Without sounding like some pastel polo clad snob at the country club I'd like to suggest that it actually matters where you work.

    Now, whether you work for a Fortune 500 company, a neighborhood pastry shop, or as the hushpuppy fryer at a Long John Silver's is of no concern of mine or hardly something I would judge someone over.

    What does matter is where you work as in the geographic location of your place of business. ... If the state is going to go to such lengths to bring jobs to abandoned facilities why don't we see to it that those jobs are situated in places that will generate the greatest economic impact?

    Just think of the impact those 1,100 GE jobs would have had if they were situated in Downtown Detroit, or Ann Arbor, or Pontiac instead of in a sprawling office complex in the middle of nowhere.

    Look at this map of where Visteon Village is situated. It is nowhere near any retail or entertainment.

    If the jobs were situated in a city then employees could easily walk to local restaurants and retail facilities, which are typically locally owned and tend to have a greater impact on the amount of money kept in the community. A 2003 study of government workers who work in downtowns found they spend between $2,500 and $3,500 annually in the surrounding area of where they work, significantly more than if they were in office parks.

    Furthermore, having those extra bodies in a city center not only pumps money into the local economy, but also brings life and vitality to cities which our city centers all too often lack. "

  • 3

    I think this article would make an excellent post to the blog. It may really spark a discussion regarding the extent to which government policies can contribute to or negate sprawl and poor urban design (and the effects of poor urban design and sprawl on the region).

    Has Oakland County's growth been due to government subsidies and other policies or is it more due to "free market" factors? What do your readers think about the author's point that many of the MEDC tax credits would be put to much better use if they were aimed at encouraging these companies to build in true downtown areas rather than suburban office parks?

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