Governor Aims For Cool State

July 11, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Gov. Jennifer Granholm welcomed new Rotary President Don Williams yesterday while outlining five points that she says will keep Michigan growing in the future.

Likening the state to a corporation — of which she is the new CEO and of whose shareholders she was addressing — Granholm explained her reasoning behind many of the choices she has made since her inauguration earlier this year.

Her first task as CEO, she said, was to ensure that the state is run well. Granholm said the funding cuts she made were based on that premise and added that she has four areas of importance for which funding is absolutely essential: children and K-12 education, public safety, economic development and health care.

Next on her list, Granholm said, is determining how the state’s economy can grow, and she is focusing on three main areas.

“We can capitalize on manufacturing to start. Then we must also look at not just muscle economy but mind economy,” said Granholm. “We have started to build a great tri-technology corridor including life sciences, the state’s auto strengths and homeland security. We need to look at what we can incubate in those areas and grow.”

Maintaining and developing a skilled work force was the third area of emphasis the governor mentioned, adding that education should be the focal point.

From there, she said, Michigan should be able to attract companies by providing skilled labor.

A fourth area of importance, she said, is making Michigan and its cities “cool” places to live.

“We rank 47th among states for young people, ages 25-34, leaving the state,” Granholm said. “We need to think about cultivating a creative class. We need to see the things that attract and keep young people in the area and grow those opportunities here.”

Finally, Granholm said, a fifth important tool for making Michigan viable in the future is to think about regional problem solving. Instead of solving problems city by city, she said, cities need to realize the choices they make affect other municipalities and the state as a whole.

The governor commended the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce for its slogan, “1 Michigan.” She noted it echoes her point perfectly and demonstrates to businesses and cities that they need to think bigger than their own backyard.

“The whole state is impacted when one area suffers and this doesn’t need to be an East vs. West or city vs. suburb thing,” said Granholm. “We should have a global vision of what we should be doing. We want to create Michigan as a magnet state.”           

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