Economic Development and Nonprofits

BLM updates strategic plan

The Michigan Turnaround Plan will emphasize three steps instead of six.

April 4, 2014
| By Pete Daly |
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Almost five years after the launch of the Michigan Turnaround Plan by the Business Leaders for Michigan, the statewide organization of top executives from 80 leading companies and universities is unveiling a change in strategy to continue the state’s progress toward more jobs, higher incomes and a healthier economy.

“About one-third of the original Michigan Turnaround Plan has been accomplished, with impressive results,” said Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO of Whirlpool Corp. and chair of BLM’s board.

“Michigan’s made significant gains in employment and income growth, and our GDP and population are coming back up, too. But our competitors in the U.S. and across the world aren’t standing still. We’ve got to pivot, refresh and realign behind an updated strategy that reflects current realities,” said Fettig.

Over the last three or four years, “it feels like we’re getting our act together,” said Doug Rothwell, BLM president and CEO. “But now is not the time to get complacent.”

The Michigan Turnaround Plan is described as a fact-based roadmap to help Michigan become a top 10 economic competitor. First released in 2009, the updated plan has been reorganized and is being rolled out across the state in the coming weeks.

“With the gains Michigan’s made, it would be easy to breathe a sigh of relief and carry on as we always have,” Rothwell said. “But the simple truth is, Michigan can’t afford to do that anymore. The world has changed, and we need to keep our collective feet on the gas so we don’t fall behind again.”

Rothwell said having a shared playbook helps people and organizations move forward together to grow a stronger state.

“Michigan needs a strong plan to achieve its goals — a plan that unites people and transcends political terms of office. During an election year, it’s critically important for state residents to support strong leaders who will back policies necessary to the state’s growth. We hope that voters will keep the plan in mind when they’re talking to candidates and making decisions during the coming election cycle.”

The updated plan is mapped out in three key areas for the state to compete, invest and grow. According to Business Leaders for Michigan:

  • In competition with other states, Michigan has made strong gains toward rebuilding its position. The updated plan builds on those gains by recommending continued modernization of the state’s business tax system, debt reduction, measures that boost fiscal stability, greater cohesion attracting and growing jobs, and more stable and collaborative local government.
  • The plan recommends boosting state investment in transportation infrastructure and education — two key areas that help grow a healthy sustainable economy. It calls for high school graduation to be tied to meeting college or career readiness benchmarks; top 10 college affordability; increasing the number of workers with education and training beyond high school; growing school-to-work transition experiences; and the tracking of college placements.
  • In efforts to grow the economy, the plan lays out strategies for creating a culture that breeds innovation and long-term prosperity. It suggests ways the state can build on its assets to create a New Michigan economy. It also highlights the importance of a thriving Detroit, the need to welcome new talent from across the country and around the world, and steps needed to position Michigan as a center of innovation.
  • Michigan will be a winner if we implement the updated MTP with the same determination and resolve of the past five years,” Rothwell said. “We have to keep our competitive edge sharp and implement strategies that make good sense. Complacency is Michigan’s enemy.”

A full copy of the updated Michigan Turnaround Plan is available at michiganturnaroundplan.com.

In early March, the BLM hosted its second annual leadership summit in East Lansing, attended by almost 500 business and policy executives who heard about the state’s recent progress in six areas identified in BLM’s New Michigan strategy as having the greatest potential to grow good jobs quickly.

“We are seeing excellent progress in these New Michigan opportunity areas; in fact, they are growing jobs at twice the rate of the state as a whole,” said Rothwell. “While we are seeing positive gains, it’s crucial to put an even greater focus on these areas. Properly leveraging our strongest assets will accelerate growth in our state, grow jobs and earnings, and create an economy that is less susceptible to economic downturns.”

Rothwell said that in 2012, more than 40 percent of all jobs created in Michigan were created in New Michigan opportunity areas.

“We know where we are strong and where we have a competitive advantage. This year’s report shows continuing progress in all six opportunity areas, with particular advancement in our engineering, mobility, higher education and logistics/supply chain sectors,” said Rothwell.

The New Michigan opportunity areas are identified as:

Global Engineering Village: Michigan continues to rank among the top U.S. states for engineering graduates, patents awarded and number of engineers per capita. Implementing the solid talent development and branding strategies developed in 2013 will position the state for significant future growth.

Gateway to the Midwest: Michigan continues to rank well above average in this opportunity area. Recent developments include the establishment of a new Logistics and Supply Chain Commission and strategy, and strengthening VantagePort (formerly Detroit Region Aerotropolis).

Higher Education Marketplace: Michigan is ranked among the nation’s top 10 for total degrees awarded, total enrollment and STEM degrees awarded. If state-level appropriations increase, along with out-of-state enrollment, Michigan can further capitalize on this strong economic driver.

Natural Resources Economy: The Great Lakes State is well positioned to supply commodities, green energy sources and other natural resources to global markets, particularly with the new International Trade Crossing in place. Coupled with a strong tourism sector, the state has strong geographic assets to leverage.

Global Center of Mobility: The state’s automotive history offers a strong base for developing next-generation vehicles and multi-modal sustainable transportation. During 2013, the state developed new government structures and plans for supporting its mobility sector, making future growth even more likely.

Life Sciences Hub: Michigan’s strong bio-sciences sector can help meet increasing global demand for quality of life solutions. During 2013, the state attracted more than $70 million in venture capital investment to support new life sciences technologies, and ranked in the top 10 for the number of clinical biopharmaceutical trials.

New Michigan opportunities grew at twice the average job growth rate, with employment as a percent of the workforce holding steady or up in all six areas. At $65,356 in average earnings, the six opportunities are almost 40 percent higher than industry overall, and GDP for the six opportunities represents 17 percent of all industry GDP in the state and increased at two and a half times the rate of the economy overall.

“By competing as a top 10 state in each of these areas through 2022 — which we believe our strong base of entrepreneurism, innovation and manufacturing will allow us to do — we have the potential to increase Michigan’s total economic output by $31 billion per year and add up to 220,000 jobs,” said Rothwell.

Some of the findings in the BLM 2014 report are:

  • From 2000 to 2010, when the U.S. lost 2 million jobs, roughly half of those were in Michigan. Today, the state is back on track with more than 250,000 jobs created.
  • Michigan companies pay on average 3 percent more in “total business costs.”
  • Michigan is a strong innovator with a ranking of 10th in the nation for university R&D spending.
  • By 2015, six out of 10 jobs will require education beyond high school.
  • Only 21 percent of Michigan’s high school graduates are college or career ready.
  • Thirty-eight percent of all major roads in Michigan are rated poor or mediocre.

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