Economist People Bring Jobs
ALLENDALE — Changes need to be made in the way
The senior regional analyst from the W.E. Upjohn Institute was one of the speakers at the two-day conference “Cool Cities — Cool Careers/Co-op,” which addressed how to make
“This is not a typical recession. This is a structural change,” he said. “We’re not in
While some say Michigan will come back when manufacturing does, Erickcek said those people do not realize that manufacturing as an industry has rebounded and is now producing more than ever — but with fewer employees than it had in the 1950s.
To bring more jobs to
“That is more difficult than even I originally thought,” he said.
While infrastructure, a skilled work force and tax abatements have been mainstays of bringing industry to the area, the focus now needs to be on having a diverse and open community with a commitment to arts and culture, as well as good schools, public services and commodities such as green spaces. And instead of it being the job of the government and the economic developers to attract companies, it is now up to the community, he said.
Erickcek said the Upjohn Institute found eight factors for growth after studying 43 variables in 117 metropolitan areas. These include:
- A skilled work force.
- Urban assimilation centers where people of different cultures feel comfortable and included.
- Racial inclusion.
- A legacy of place.
- Income equality.
- Location amenities such as green space.
- Business dynamics
- Urbanization/metropolitan structure.
“It’s not just some economic developers doing something; it’s something we all do,” he said. “It sounds like a different pack of tools than we’ve heard before from economic developers.”
These tools are what will help bring more people to the area — people from other states and people with college degrees, which Erickcek said is an indicator of what makes a “cool city,” according to the criteria spelled out in Richard Florida’s “The Rise of the Creative Class.”
“Jobs follow highly skilled professional workers,” he said.
Despite the loss of 240,000 jobs in the state between 2000 and 2006, Erickcek said he does not advise giving up on manufacturing, but only diversifying to include other industries.
“It’s way too important to lose,” he said. “It’s the foundation of our economy. Build from that base to a better future.”