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So Much for Diversity

Gov. Jennifer Granholm gave her LAST State of the State speech Wednesday. The only thing I found interesting was her comments about diversifying Michigan's economy:

"Where the old Michigan economy was all about autos and manufacturing ... the new Michigan economy is much broader: clean energy, life sciences -- like bio-economy and medical devices -- homeland security and defense, advanced manufacturing, film and tourism," she said.

Granholm, still upbeat and encouraging, said shaping the state's economy is a long haul, and she called for a step-by-step, day-by-day effort to attract new businesses and train Michiganders for those new jobs.

Gone, she said, is the old industrial model that provided high-wage jobs requiring comparatively little education. Now, she said, small businesses represent a salvation. And she presented several plans to promote it.

She said her administration "laid the groundwork" for the state's new economy. Huh. Seems like the same old state to me; what do you think?

Full text of the Gov's address available here.

The Detroit News gave its take. A highlight:

"This plan -- diversifying our economy, educating our people, protecting them along the way -- this is the path forward," she said.

Among the initiatives Granholm proposed:

• Expanding a Michigan Economic Development Corp. entrepreneur training program to 1,000 people. The 10-week training course will be offered at a dozen business and technology centers around the state.
• Launching a partnership with 30 or more credit unions to provide $43 million in loans -- averaging $20,000 -- to 2,100 budding small businesses.
• Refurbishing about 15 abandoned auto manufacturing sites in places such as Willow Run and Flint and getting them ready for new uses. The state will provide up to $100,000 at each site to assess environmental cleanup.
• Changing the Angel Tax Credit program to enable investors in small businesses to get a tax credit up front, rather than wait until the business has matured before receiving the break.
• Providing adequate funding for road repairs, or leave some $2 billion in federal money on the table. She stopped short of supporting a gas tax increase.
• Establishing "learning labs" through the No Worker Left Behind job program to train people in basic skills, such as reading, writing and math.
• Calling for funding of the Pure Michigan tourism TV and radio ad campaign, which lost its $30 million funding source this year and saw spending reduced to $5.4 million.

Here's The Detroit Free Press story on it as well. Awesome commentary by Freep columnist Ron Dzwonkowski called "Granholm's lofty swan song goals." That says it all.

If Granholm can get a majority of her proposals enacted, she will have accomplished more in terms of restructuring state government in her final months than in the previous seven years. Perhaps most importantly, she will have done a lot of heavy lifting that otherwise will fall to her successor, who will be a rookie governor dealing with a lot of rookie legislators -- potentially a disaster waiting to happen.

Also from the Freep:

Despite her efforts to diversify Michigan's economy, with state tax breaks as a main draw, the near-meltdown of the Detroit Three automakers and a long national recession outpaced the new jobs gained in various industries, most notably alternative energy, which she sought doggedly.

It also has sunk Granholm's job approval rating among voters to the lowest in her eight years, below 40%.

To many, her ill-advised exhortation in her 2006 speech that "in five years, you're going to be blown away," has become a sardonic anthem of the state's economic nose-dive.

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