Editorial

As Michigan rebounds, complacency is the biggest threat

April 18, 2014
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Business Leaders for Michigan revealed its media campaign this month to focus on a cup less than half full of accomplishments it had identified to guide the state to a top 10 status for jobs, personal income and economic health.

The campaign, however, is most strategic in targeting voters — or, more precisely, campaign donors — at the start of the summer’s politicking parades in the march to state party conventions.

Democratic Party members professing a sworn duty to repeal many of the business initiatives is as much a concern as the most conservative GOP convention delegates foreswearing a promise to change (at least) the gubernatorial leadership team.

Business Leaders for Michigan, a nonprofit organization of C-suite executive leaders of Michigan’s largest companies and presidents of its universities well represents West Michigan businesses including Amway, Steelcase, Whirlpool and Gordon Foods.

Its campaign is focused on a continued effort to boost the state economy, emphasizing that “complacency is Michigan’s enemy.” While Michigan has made gains in employment and growth, the Business Journal concurs that some of the most significant initiatives are left unfinished, especially funding for road and bridge repairs and K-12 education funding boosts for an educated labor force.

Michigan is a long way from top 10 status and unstable in its evolution to world-class status.

Just as the extent of the winter’s road damage is revealed this spring, summer employment openings likely will frame the issue of the decreasing number of available applicants and certainly skill sets. Michigan business owners cannot wait another four years for remedy, the cost of which already is exploding — and increasingly becomes prohibitive.

BLM and many other business leaders have been frustratingly late to make the calls for education funding increases, the state’s most important task.

Michigan Future Inc. President Lou Glazer, whose group has extensively studied talent/high-income clusters world-wide, told the Business Journal the task of elevating Michigan’s current rate of 24 percent attainment of advanced degrees will take an entire generation — a point with which BLM President and CEO Doug Rothwell agrees.

That fact should light fires in the legislature and so, too, the fact that talent is not moving to Michigan. The state ranks 30th in the nation for an educated workforce.

The Business Journal expects these same subjects are likely to be brought to the West Michigan Policy Forum in late September as business owners and leaders from across the region and state convene to establish the priority of issues.

These concerns must continue to be at the forefront of business initiatives and support. Too much is at stake and far too much has already been lost.

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