Health Sciences, Services Continue To Shift Development Lever

November 5, 2007
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Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm poked her head out of the budget fray in mid-October to comment that Detroit and communities in Southeast Michigan could certainly become significant parts of the Life Sciences initiatives. In fact, she reportedly said she would assist that effort with state funding.

Because her predecessor, Gov. John Engler, was deliberate in including Wayne State University on the “Michigan Life Sciences Corridor,” headquartered by the Van Andel Institute that now anchors Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile, it seems curious — perhaps explained by the continued politics of state funding, for which there is no end, comparatively speaking, for those institutions of higher learning on the east side of the state. Just ask any of the (two) past presidents of Grand Valley State University.

Lest the governor’s funding politics take one’s eye off the ball, however, suffice it to say that it is indeed a welcome prospect to engage the private sector across the state to raise more cranes in Michigan. The building boom related to the health care and life sciences sector here has been duly noted across the media landscape, even including The New York Times this past summer.

Grand Rapids Business Journal has reported on the new-found, or rediscovered, joy of attentive interest in this region from service-sector businesses from the environs of St. Clair Shores. It is no secret that University of Michigan leadership is making more formal outreach to area businesses and life science industries.

The businesses on which the Business Journal and Commercial Quarterly report in-depth have perhaps never been better prepared and experienced to assist that growth in the southeast sector — and create new partnerships, the component missing for the southeast formula. Let’s call that a “seed” ready to plant, and note it is not attached to “free state money” from the public sector.

The stories in this issue of Commercial Quarterly are an outstanding compilation showing the domino effect of not just the health sciences economic impact, but also that related to service businesses. And it is one that has regional (if not statewide) reach. Kalamazoo and Muskegon are seeing fruit of the entrepreneurs doing business in this area. (See Anne Bond Emrich’s story on Page 14 regarding the establishment and growth of Kalexsyn.)

What continues to glue West Michigan together is the unequaled investment of private funds in each sector. That similar investment is in short supply in the east is extremely regrettable — for Michigan. CQX

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