Economic Development and Nonprofits

State business group CEO urges steady economic vision, weighs in on ballots

November 2, 2012
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Rothwell presents turnaround plan to Grandville/Jenison chamber
Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, delivers a presentation on how to turn around the state’s economy. Photo by Mike Nichols

This season of voting could bring a turnaround to Michigan’s economic plan.

At least, Doug Rothwell hopes so.

The president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan was in Grandville Thursday presenting on the Michigan Turnaround Plan before the Grandville and Jenison chamber.

Rothwell took the 20 people present through the six steps his team wants the state to take in order to rebound Michigan’s economy.

“A business wins when they offer more value for customers than their competitors in the marketplace,” he said. “It’s not different for a state.”

Rothwell urged the chamber to stay focused on the long-term goals of the plan, rather than shift focus based on party control. The economic plan should not change course when Gov. Rick Snyder leaves office and there’s a new “cast of characters in place,” he said.

“We have tended, over the last 20 years, to zigzag over what we were going to go after (an election) as a state, based on who was in office,” he said. “Let’s put that aside and just look at what we’re best at. If we try to grow these assets, we’d be much better in the long term, (by using) strategic planning and sticking with it and have business and community leaders own it, rather than just saying, ‘Oh well, that’s just what Lansing does.”

Rothwell reminded chamber members to vote on Michigan’s upcoming ballots. “One is yes, no on the rest,” he sang, highlighting Proposal 6 and Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun’s ad campaign, “The People Should Decide.”

“Matty has got a monopoly. He’s made probably $30 million to $50 million a year in profit,” Rothwell said. “This is nothing against him or his monopoly, he’s just protecting his own interests.”

The reason Mouron hasn’t built another bridge before now is because he doesn’t have to, Rothwell said. The Canadians don’t want him to because it would dump traffic into Windsor, Ontario. The Canadian government does want to work with Gov. Snyder, however, because it’s in Canada’s best interests and would help its ports become better gateways.

Everybody wins, he said, except for billionaire Mouron.

“We get a bridge, we don’t have to pay for it, and the governor is smart and saying he can leverage the money back into the state,” Rothwell said. “This is a big no-brainer, but Matty is going to do everything he can to drag it out. But it’s still a no-brainer.”

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