State Life Sciences Pump It Up
GRAND RAPIDS — A survey of new economy business executives in five states suggests that if Michigan wants to be a real player in the life sciences it should, first and foremost, place more emphasis on building a well-educated work force.
Although survey respondents felt a favorable business tax policy was a driving force in a state’s success in the life sciences sector, a well educated work force trumped taxes as a leading indicator that a state’s business climate is conducive to new economy success.
The overall refrain was that
The survey was the second commissioned by
The survey asked 1,200 executives working in new economy businesses to assess Michigan’s potential in the life sciences and to identify the best strategy the state could adopt to become successful in that arena. The survey involved executives from the Midwestern states of Michigan, Illinois and Ohio and two coastal states where new economy businesses are thriving — California and Massachusetts. Respondents included executives in engineering, information technology, life sciences and scientific testing, telecommunications, medical, dental and optical equipment, as well as health care and new economy manufacturing.
According to the New Economy Index, foundations for growth in the new economy include the pace of transition into a digital economy, business and government investment in technology, and progress in the development of the work force’s education and skills.
Among respondents from all five states, 72 percent said a well-educated work force was “above average” in importance or “very important” to success, while 68 percent said favorable tax law was “above average” or “very important.”
It appears that in
Ironically, 69 percent of all those polled said
Some 34 percent of
“The overall take for me is the major policy question of how do we focus our investments to move forward, and, clearly, we want a very welcoming tax environment,” WMU’s President Bailey said. “But the top two states with knowledge-based economies in the nation said the most important thing to them was an educated talent pool. That should be factored in a major way into the policy conversation. While we are perceived by our competitors as having a quality educational environment, we are not producing a large enough work force with the set of skills needed. Those are all pieces of that policy conversation.”
Bailey said she was surprised most by
“The other thing that surprised me was that 28 percent of
As stated in the executive summary of the results: “While tax policy is seen as very important, strength in other areas allows new economy businesses to thrive in states where taxes are high. Despite their onerous business tax structures,
“Despite a seeming edge on the tax issue,
A total of 12 percent, or one in eight, of