Experts’ Message to Business, Community, Education and Elected Leaders: Time to Build a New Michigan


LANSING, Mich., May 17, 2010 – Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s business roundtable, in partnership with The Center for Michigan and Council of Michigan Foundations, today convened more than 300 leaders from across the state for the group’s inaugural Leadership Summit—this one focused on Michigan’s fiscal challenges. The summit featured experts from both inside and outside of Michigan who delivered to business, community, education and policy leaders a somber view of Michigan’s financial condition. There was a clear call for government structural reforms necessary to enable state and local governments to function effectively to deliver critical public services.

“Business Leaders for Michigan is pleased to join with the Center for Michigan and Council of Michigan Foundations in a very unique opportunity to call attention to issues that all three organizations believe are vital to our state,” said Dave Joos, board chair, Business Leaders for Michigan. “The challenges Michigan faces are many and serious, but they are rooted in a lack of jobs and fiscal instability. They will only be solved through holistic reforms and by us all working together to find common ground. We hope the Leadership Summit raised awareness of the challenges we face and fostered the spirit of working together we will need to progress.”

The Leadership Summit’s agenda included extensive sessions on state and local government financial projections, challenges employers face competing because of them, and a presentation by renowned governing expert Stephen Goldsmith.

“We put together the Leadership Summit because too much attention continues to be paid to the state’s annual budget drama rather than the long-term fiscal health of our state,” said Doug Rothwell, president & CEO, Business Leaders for Michigan. “Unfortunately, as bad as the immediate budget situation is, Michigan’s long-term balance sheet looks worse. Today, we focused on why it is critical that we face head-on the problems we know exist, and set in place a structure that aligns with today’s economic realities and enables Michigan to move forward.”

According to projections by fiscal experts working for both houses of the Michigan Legislature, state and local governments, along with public school systems, will continue to struggle to provide public services in the face of shrinking revenues, declining population and declining job opportunities.

“Michigan’s last decade has been disastrous economically,” said Citizens Research Council president Jeff Guilfoyle, one of the experts featured during the Summit. “The state’s economic decline has created a very real disconnect between the current level of expenditures and current level of revenues and this will not self correct. We need to face this fact and adjust our government accordingly, or understand that our state and its citizens are going to continue to suffer.”

Michigan House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean put it most blatant for attendees, saying “the state’s tax base is not stable and will not support any level of service for long.”

Attendees also heard about innovative, commonsense and successful leadership models that have been advanced in other parts of the country to deal with challenges like those in Michigan.

“This is an opportunity for everyone to come to the table to set a long-term vision and goals for our state,” said panelist Daniel Gilmartin, executive director and CEO, Michigan Municipal League. “We must all work together and lay the groundwork for Michigan to become prosperous again. There are states, regions and communities out there that are tackling the issues and moving on. We are wise to see them as inspiration.”

Stephen Goldsmith, who on April 30 was named New York City’s Chief Deputy Mayor by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was the Summit’s keynote speaker. Goldsmith will become NYC’s No. 2 government man in June and is being tasked with “reinventing” the city’s government. Goldsmith is the former mayor of Indianapolis, Ind., which emerged as an economic success story under Goldsmith’s leadership. The Council of Michigan Foundations sponsored Goldsmith’s appearance .

Leadership Summit speakers included:

  • Jeff Guilfoyle, President, Citizens Research Council of Michigan
  • Mitch Bean, Director, House Fiscal Agency
  • Gary Olson, Director, Senate Fiscal Agency
  • Robert Daddow, Deputy Oakland County Executive
  • Daniel Gilmartin, Executive Director & CEO, Michigan Municipal League
  • Craig Thiel, Director of State Affairs, Citizens Research Council of Michigan
  • Doug DeVos, President, Amway
  • Cynthia Pasky, Founder, President & CEO, Strategic Staffing Solutions
  • John Rakolta, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Walbridge
  • David Joos, President & CEO, CMS Energy and Chair, Business Leaders for Michigan
  • Doug Rothwell, President & CEO, Business Leaders for Michigan

The Leadership Summit was Business Leaders for Michigan’s first of a series being planned by the organization to focus on key strategies needed for a strong, vibrant Michigan future.

The Business Leaders for Michigan “Leadership Summit: Fixing Michigan’s Fiscal Crisis” took place in Lansing today at the Radisson Hotel.

More information is available at

About Business Leaders for Michigan

Business Leaders for Michigan (, the state’s business roundtable, is dedicated to making Michigan a “Top Ten” state for job and economic growth. The organization is composed exclusively of the chairpersons, chief executives or most senior executives of Michigan’s largest companies and universities, which provide over 300,000 jobs in Michigan, generate over $1 Trillion in annual revenue and serve over 130,000 students. The organization’s work is defined by the Michigan Turnaround Plan, a holistic, fact-based strategy to get Michigan’s economy back on track. Visit for more information.

About The Center for Michigan

The Center for Michigan is a “think-and-do tank” founded by Phil Power in early 2006. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, The Center’s objective is to assist our state through its current period of wrenching economic trouble and to lay the foundation of informed hope for a better future Michigan. It will help develop and execute comprehensive, long-range and, in some cases, radical policy solutions to transform Michigan’s business, economic, political and cultural climate. In so doing, it will work to help reform the structure and workings of Michigan’s political system. For more information, visit the Center’s website at

About the Council of Michigan Foundations

The Council on Foundations, formed in 1949, is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Members of the Council include approximately 2,000 independent, operating, community, public and company-sponsored foundations and corporate giving programs in the United States and abroad. The assets of Council members total more than $307 billion. The Council’s mission is to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good. For more information, visit the Council’s website at

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