Business Leaders for Michigan in Detroit today released “Compete to Win: Michigan’s Path to Top 10,” a plan that lays out a strategy for Michigan to become a leading state for economic growth.
“In the decade following the Great Recession, Michigan made great strides (by) improving the business climate and economic growth of our state,” says Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “Getting from the bottom of the pack to the middle was an accomplishment — getting from the middle to the top will be harder and will take all of us coming together.
“We must be clear-eyed about the challenges ahead and be bold in addressing them. We need long-term strategies aimed at making us more competitive and big investments to improve systems and help people, businesses, and communities compete to win.”
“Compete to Win,” which is backed by the state’s top CEOs and university presidents who compose Business Leaders’ board, notes that while Michigan has made significant gains since the Great Recession, moving to 29th from 49th, the state still struggles to compete.
Important challenges remain to improve the state’s standing in labor force participation, poverty, median household income, and educational attainment.
The research and data-driven recommendations focus on four priority areas:
Do better by students:
- Enact near-term changes to accelerate improvement to the K-12 system.
- Transform the K-12 system so no student is left behind and a high school diploma represents a universal high standard.
Invest in people:
- Remove barriers to economic success for Michiganders to enter the workforce and progress in their career.
- Improve connections between learning and careers to ensure individuals have quality jobs and employers have access to talent.
- Increase the number of workers with high-demand credentials, skills, and degrees to improve income and quality of life.
- Attract and retain workers to Michigan to grow the population and talent base.
Accelerate the economy:
- Drive a consistent and competitive state economic development strategy across political terms.
- Become a leading state for business attraction and retention.
Get the fundamentals right:
- Ensure a competitive cost of doing business and good governance, which the organization says will continue to make Michigan an attractive place to do business.
- Invest in infrastructure.
- Make Michigan a destination for people and employers.
“Michigan’s opportunity is clear,” says Howard Ungerleider, president and CFO of Dow in Midland and chairman of Business Leaders of Michigan. “A consistent, long-standing strategy will enable our state to become a leader in world-class education and economic development that drives business growth, a highly skilled workforce, and strong quality of life for residents. The transformational investments we make today have the ability to accelerate Michigan to a top 10 state.”
“Compete to Win” uses Business Leaders’ latest benchmarks released in January 2022, which provide a holistic view of how well all Michiganders are succeeding. The benchmarks informed the recommendations on how local people, businesses, and communities can better compete against leading states for economic growth.
The current top 10 states include Utah, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, Oregon, Florida, and Arizona.
Closing equity gaps is threaded throughout the plan’s recommendations, a fundamental imperative to creating a state where there is a healthy economy and widely shared prosperity. The plan calls for equity funding in K-12 education, removing barriers to success such as affordable and accessible housing options, childcare, transportation, and broadband access, along with creating attractive communities that are welcoming to all.
“We must focus on what’s important to make this state better tomorrow than it is today. There’s no silver bullet to solve systemic issues,” says Donofrio. “If we want widely shared prosperity and a healthy economy, we must act with urgency and focus our attention on what it will take for every Michigander to be successful.”