LANSING –  Huge gaps remain in efforts to expand Michigan’s economic progress that include investing in infrastructure, boosting K-12 educational performance and growing a working-age population, so says Business Leaders for Michigan.

“We have a great picture of where Michigan stands today on the national scale: better, but still not best,” said Doug Rothwell, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “BLM started collecting and analyzing this data 10 years ago, so we have a solid benchmark to see where we’ve grown and how much better off we are than in 2010.

“And yet, we’ve also identified where huge gaps remain: investing in our infrastructure, boosting K-12 educational performance and growing a working-age population. It’s tough to review some of this data and come to certain realizations: for one, that we’ve been discussing for years how best to improve education and have really failed to move our kids forward.

“If we do not take concrete actions at the state level to accelerate our work, we will fall further behind other states putting our citizens at a disadvantage to achieving higher incomes and a better quality of life.  Our Board feels an urgency to act on this data and is heavily engaged in conveying these concerns to top policymakers in Lansing.”

Executive leadership from Michigan’s largest universities and companies gathered with policymakers, economic developers and the education community on Monday to review data on Michigan’s progress over the past 10 years. BLM also presented specific actions it identified that elected officials can take to accelerate the state’s standing where our state is lagging significantly behind other states.

Rothwell outlined the top six priorities BLM identified for 2020:

  • Strengthen Michigan’s talent base by developing a strategy to attract more immigrants and out-of-state talent
  • Build strong communities by raising sufficient and sustainable revenue to improve our roads and bridges
  • Leverage our key strengths by promoting key industries that have untapped potential to elevate Michigan’s status as a diverse economic powerhouse
  • Design recommendations to improve alignment between community college outcomes and workforce needs
  • Invest in people by advocating for adoption of Launch Michigan’s recommendations and directing more existing funding directly to the classroom
  • Compete for good jobs by establishing the best business attraction program in the country

The event also featured leadership from three states that rank in the “Top Ten” – states identified by BLM that perform the highest in the nation on key indicators of jobs, personal income and an overall healthy economy. Ron Starner, a site selection consultant for global corporations, offered insight on advantages other states offer that Michigan does not, touching on infrastructure, talent availability and overall business climate. Gerry Anderson of DTE, who is serving as BLM’s Board Chair for 2020-21, discussed where the organization will focus its efforts in the next two years.

The website released Monday by BLM, www.MichigansRoadtoTopTen.com, is designed to serve as a resource for policymakers in Lansing as well as decision-makers and stakeholders across the entire state.