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Turnaround Plan Losing Momentum?

Had another blog post planned today, but then I heard the news...

The University of Michigan today named David Brandon, the chairman and CEO of Domino's Pizza and a former University of Michigan football player and university regent, as U-M's athletic director. Not a big deal in and of itself (although a strange pick, I'll admit).

The reason I'm concerned is Brandon's participation as chairman of the Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of CEOs like himself dedicated to turning the state around. The group really had some solid ideas for making Michigan viable again -- and the more I thought about their plan, the more I liked it.

Michigan lost more private sector jobs since the year 2000 than any other state with nearly 50 percent of U.S. job losses since 2000 being in Michigan. Our unemployment rate was a staggering 15.4 percent in November, the latest data available. We're in trouble. We need a plan.

We need guys like Brandon in business and governmental leadership roles -- people with a vision for our state's future. Brandon also was a contender to run for Michigan's governor when Jenny G. steps down. That is out of the picture now that he is locked into a 5-year contact with the university.

There has been so much good news of late -- today was the first meeting of Detroit's newly revitalized City Council. Granholm signed major bills that could bring the state new dollars for education. General Motors is giving out raises next month. It felt like the state was on a roll.

For backgrouind, the Michigan Turnaround Plan has five points:

1. Changing the way the state manages its finances: For the past three fiscal years, Michigan has overprojected revenues, in part due to the lack of sufficient input from a broad spectrum of economic advisors, resulting in chronic budget crises. Fiscal discipline could be enhanced through forming an independent forecasting council, adopting two‐year budgets and prohibiting new programs unless revenues grow or others of like size are eliminated.
2. Rightsizing and enacting structural budget reforms: Budget right‐sizing is needed in the short term and structural reforms in the long‐term to achieve sustainable finances. Budget right‐sizing should address public employee compensation and benefits, while long‐term structural reforms should include corrections spending reductions, local government and school district service sharing and elimination of optional federal services or duplicative state programs.
3. Getting Michigan competitive to attract and retain jobs: This would include developing a competitive business tax structure that reflects Michigan's changing economy, providing a more predictable and stable tax environment for businesses and ensuring tax changes don't make the state's structural deficit worse. The short‐term goal is to significantly reduce the tax burden of the MBT, while making Michigan a “top ten” state for lowest business costs in the long‐run.
4. Making investments that create a great job environment: Michigan must set priorities and invest its budget resources in areas that will have the greatest long‐term economic impact, such as infrastructure, higher education and urban development.
5. Accelerating job growth through innovation and entrepreneurship: Michigan could benefit from shifting its economic development strategy towards supporting innovation and entrepreneurship across all sectors; increasing entrepreneurial education; and creating a university‐business partnership focused on attracting business, growing sectors and retaining talent.

With Brandon out, who is going to step up to turn this plan into reality?

UPDATE: I emailed the group but got no response. Crain's Detroit reports that Brandon is indeed stepping down; no word yet who will replace him. But there are a bevy of potential candidates, said President and CEO Doug Rothwell.

From the Crain's Web site:

“There are five vice chairs of the organization; we would be looking first to one of them to fill Dave's spot,” Rothwell said.

The five vice chairs of Business Leaders for Michigan are: Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr.; Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO of Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp.; West Michigan businessman Michael Jandernoa, former CEO of Allegan-based Perrigo Co.; Dave Joos, president and CEO of Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp..; and Detroit-based PVS Chemicals CEO Jim Nicholson.

“While we're certainly going to miss Dave when he has to step down, I think his legacy is creating an organization that is as engaged as he was personally,” Rothwell said. “Our meeting participation rate is 75 or 80 percent, which is phenomenal when you think these are all CEOs.”

Business Leaders for Michigan emerged as a group of 75 CEOs from around the state last September, following the merger of Detroit Renaissance Inc. with the Michigan Business Leadership Council.

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