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Moving Michigan Forward

Mackinac Policy Conference: May 29-31Mackinac Policy Conference: May 29-31

State Leaders Share Their Perspectives

 

Michigan is primed for a comeback as the state shrugs off the negative publicity — fueled by a faltering automotive industry and a shrinking population, among other challenges — that has shrouded it in recent years. But all that appears to be changing with the state’s new tax laws, emerging tech industries, a renewed focus on education to meet the needs of business, a rebirth of the auto industry and other exciting initiatives.

X-OLOGY Magazine asked a group of state business, education, healthcare and government leaders to share their thoughts on Michigan’s future in this special section: Moving Michigan Forward. What they have to say is positive and promising, particularly in light of the hardships the state has faced.

This X-OLOGY special section is a foretaste of the upcoming Detroit Regional Chamber 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference, where leaders gather to share ideas on how to reenergize the state. Henry Ford Health System’s CEO Nancy Schlichting, this year’s conference chair, says the Mackinac Policy Conference, “offers people from various business sectors the opportunity to align with some of the great thinkers. It’s a chance to get the very focused minds of our state together to think about how to move forward.”

This inquiry serves as a starting point in that dialogue.

 

What makes Michigan a good place to do business?

David E. Cole, Chairman, AutoHarvest
“Michigan is a great place to do business for many reasons: the four seasons, abundant water supplies, great colleges and universities, supportive and friendly population, good work ethic, the people understand manufacturing, it’s close to major markets and business centers, great access to international centers around the world and a skilled workforce.”

Ken Rogers, Executive Director, Automation Alley
“A talented and knowledgeable workforce capable of making and creating anything. Strong work ethic. A diversified business community. A focus on entrepreneurialism. Great educational institutions. Exceptional quality of life.”

William Ford Jr., Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
“One of the major differentiators for Michigan is that it has an enormous amount of manufacturing depth, making it one of the world’s leading global centers for manufacturing excellence. With a Tier 1-4 supply base, Michigan provides an incredible value chain for business with improved reaction times and great collaboration amongst partners.”

Ron Gardhouse, President and CEO, NextEnergy
“Michigan is a great place to find high-tech talent, engineering skills and skilled trades. This state offers a proactive, supportive government, and economic development agencies work as real partners to grow business. Michigan has a strong network of experienced firms that specialize in research, design, engineering, testing, production, automation and assembly. Michigan is a good buy in terms of making a business investment and offers a high quality of life for a moderate cost of living.”

Sharon Miller, Vice Chancellor of External Affairs, Oakland Community College
“There is a strong commitment on the part of government and education to support business.”

Leslie Smith, President and CEO, TechTown
“Michigan has deep, robust assets. Our research universities are developing our nation's next leaders and game-changing technologies; we have a legacy of excellence around innovation, engineering and manufacturing. Our real estate is affordable, our workers have an exceptional work ethic and there is a robust ecosystem at work to support business development in and around the state.”

Jase Bolger, Michigan Speaker of the House, R-Marshall
“In Michigan, we are proud to be a state committed to attracting businesses, promoting growth and developing opportunities. To that end, we recently eliminated the burdensome and onerous Michigan Business Tax, and replaced it with a simple, straightforward and competitive 6-percent corporate income tax.

“In the last year we have reformed our unemployment system and revamped our workers compensation insurance. We have adopted national-leading teacher tenure reform to focus on quality education and a trained workforce. Michigan has opened its doors to and for job providers. Further, Michigan's budget stands out as it demonstrates we are now a stable and predictable place to invest.

“Michigan has turned the corner from budget deficits in excess of a billion dollars, and now has a surplus of nearly half a billion dollars. We now have more than $400 million in our savings accounts, and in the last year we retired $5.6 billion in debt that was left from prior overspending. Most importantly, Michigan remains a state with a top-quality workforce that has for decades demonstrated their grit, determination and strong work ethic.”

Ellen Cogen Lipton, State Representative, D-Huntington Woods
“Michigan is a wonderful place to do business because of our abundance of natural talent. We have an extremely talented and committed workforce, and that is an asset for any business, large or small, looking to come to our state, as well as for our native businesses that wish to grow and flourish.”

Nancy Schlichting, CEO, Henry Ford Health System
“I would say our talent, including the diversity we have in our state, which enriches us in a lot of ways. There are many states that are smaller and don’t have the diversity of an urban environment, history of innovation and strength of manufacturing that Michigan has. It’s an incredible place to be with a lot of great strengths. We also have some of the finest healthcare in the country right here in Michigan.”

John Walsh, House Speaker Pro Tempore, R-Livonia
“2011 brought major governmental reforms that will have a positive, long-lasting effect on Michigan. Long-term changes in the business tax code and state spending will help create a climate in which businesses can flourish. Additionally, reforms made in education will improve opportunities for students and assist in the creation of an educated workforce for generations to come.”

Kate Segal, Michigan House Democratic Floor Leader, D-Battle Creek
“Michigan is already a great place to do business, but it could be better. My Democratic colleagues and I are focused on making sure that our workers have the training, education and skills that employers demand, and are committed to enacting policies that will empower the small- and medium-size businesses that create jobs to succeed in our state.”

“Democrats are devoted to supporting policies that retrain workers for jobs in new areas like green energy and advanced battery manufacturing and to adequately funding our public schools so that our students receive a world-class education that will prepare them for college and the workforce. We also recognize that many 21st century businesses need employees with a 21st century education. That is why we are fighting to make higher education affordable for our students so that they are ready for the modern workforce when they graduate.”

Amy Butler, Executive Director, OU INCubator
“Our propensity for innovation, our experience in turning challenges into opportunity and our abundance of resources, both natural resources and intellectual resources. In addition, we’re continuing to develop an understanding of how to leverage those resources to accelerate innovation within businesses and provide the policies and tools to enable their success.”

Julie Gustafson, Executive Director, Macomb-OU Incubator
“The entrepreneurial mindset; it is amazing, expanding and continually evolving through much of the state. It is exciting. Thank you Michigan Economic Development Corporation for leading the way!”

Matt Cullen, President and COO, Rock Ventures
“If Michigan were a stock, it would be undervalued. Michigan has a tremendous number of assets that are positive for business and people don’t always recognize that. Our high quality of life, strong university system, large supply of high-tech auto-sector professionals and low cost of living create a great environment for business.”

Lisa L. Howze, State Representative, D-Detroit
“Michigan is home to three of the nation's top research universities from which to attract talent to work in the fields of advanced technology manufacturing, bio-technology and life sciences and healthcare. Michigan has a highly skilled workforce, a strong manufacturing base and many cultural attractions that contribute to the quality of life for businesses and their employees who choose to stay and locate here. In addition, the value of property; land is available at a bargain.”

Jack Weiner, CEO, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital
“Our transportation infrastructure: we’ve got great roadways, railways, airports … the ease of ingress and egress makes moving goods, services and resources an easily manageable task.”

Gene Michalski, President and CEO, Beaumont Health System
“Michigan is fortunate to have a very skilled workforce with a hardworking, Midwestern work ethic. With 15 public universities, our state offers outstanding educational opportunities, creating a contemporary, skilled, new talent pool. Our state is also culturally and ethnically diverse, which helps better position us for the global economy.”

L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive
“Michigan is rebounding from one of the lowest economic points in its history. It makes sense for a business to be part of the rebound and recovery.”

Dr. Patricia Maryland, President and CEO, St. John Providence Health System
“Michigan has a rich culture of collaboration as well as talented, hard-working people. Throughout our state we have access to world-class healthcare. With new medical schools and research facilities, we are well-positioned to be a major player in the life sciences.”

Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, University of Michigan Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and U-M Health System CEO
“It’s a unique combination of our rich history of industrial innovation, our strong public research universities and quality-oriented healthcare institutions, our incredible cultural institutions and natural resources, and our Midwest practicality. Underlying all of this is our urgent need to diversify and expand our economy, and the associated opportunities for innovation.”

Rudy Hobbs, State Representative, D-Southfield
“Michigan is a good place to do business because we have so many intangibles working in our favor. We have a long and storied history as an industrial state with an effective and knowledgeable workforce, especially in the manufacturing sector. Michigan's infrastructure, especially industrial properties that are now in disuse, offers opportunities for local businesses and out-of-state companies to gain a competitive advantage at a modicum of price to expand and grow their enterprise. The abundance of our natural resources — especially the Great Lakes — makes us the envy of other states in our Union, and we have an education system and universities here that give our young Michiganders the intellectual fortitude to succeed in this global economy.

“But more than that, the largest intangible in our favor is the superior quality of life that can be attained here, with neighbors that take pride in their communities and stand together in even the most trying economic times.”

Mark Hackel, Macomb County Executive
“As a center of manufacturing and R&D, Michigan has continually demonstrated its ability to help businesses to thrive. Our state has a skilled and talented workforce and, through restructuring tax policies and creating public-private partnerships, we’ve responded to the needs of business and developed legislative and community-based solutions.”

Paul Krutko, CEO, Ann Arbor SPARK
“Michigan is an ideal place to do business for many reasons. We have an abundant source of high-tech and knowledgeable talent stemming from several major research institutions, like the University of Michigan.  The cost of living and doing business in places like Ann Arbor is affordable when compared with national benchmarks, and much lower than high demand locations like Silicon Valley, Boston and Boulder. The culture is vibrant and attractive for business and talent looking to relocate or expand. Organizations like SPARK and the MEDC have formed a strong support system committed to helping business grow.

Dr. Lewis Walker, President, Lawrence Technological University
“For people interested in being employed in architecture, technology and engineering, Detroit is a national epicenter of job opportunity. A recent study for Automation Alley concluded that Southeast Michigan has the highest concentration of technology-related employment in the Midwest and trails only Silicon Valley nationally in employing architects and engineers.

“Michigan’s economic assets are strong. We have large numbers of engineers and researchers, great universities and high-technology employment in automotive, defense and other industries. Our economy is diversifying; we’re seeing increases in the life and medical sciences, in conventional and alternative energy and high-tech manufacturing. These all hold great promise.”

 

If you could do one thing to move Michigan forward, what would it be?

David E. Cole, AutoHarvest
“The most critical thing to move Michigan forward is to do a better job of educating the workforce of tomorrow. We are very concerned that with the re-growth of business, particularly manufacturing, and the retirement of tens of thousands of boomers, we will not have an appropriate workforce. This is particularly true in manufacturing where even the minimum education to work on an assembly line is a two-year community college degree.”

Ken Rogers, Automation Alley
“Promote the value and accessibility of a variety of educational opportunities for our workforce, from certificate programs to trade schools to degree programs. Education is the key to the 21st century economy.”

William Ford Jr., Ford Motor Company
“While there is no one silver bullet that’s needed to move Michigan forward, completion of a second bridge to Canada and eliminating the industrial personal property tax would do a great deal in making Michigan even more competitive.

“Construction of a second bridge to Canada would demonstrate that Michigan is aggressively establishing itself to play an even bigger role in international trade.  Eliminating the personal property tax would encourage businesses, not penalize them, for investing in their future.  If State policy encourages businesses to invest locally, talent and good paying jobs will follow.”

Ron Gardhouse, NextEnergy 
“Michigan can work its assets to an advantage by developing a formal long-term energy plan that leverages the state’s production and intellectual strengths. The plan would provide direction and stability for future capital investments in power generation, with consideration for Michigan’s current assets and attracting investments and job creation for the state.”

Sharon Miller, OCC
“Encourage parents and children of all ages to pursue careers in science and technology — with a focus on manufacturing. The pipeline of skilled workers in manufacturing is in jeopardy due to the trauma caused by the recession.”

Leslie Smith, Tech Town
“Move our transportation infrastructure into the 21st century.”

Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, Marshall
“States should not be placing ever more burdensome regulations on businesses, or seeking to balance state budgets on the backs of major job providers. Instead, expressing gratitude for opportunities and creating a climate conducive to business growth, development and expansion should be a primary objective of state governments. To that end we recently repealed more than 200 bureaucratic rules and several laws estimated to cost consumers more than $2 billion annually for compliance. Cutting red tape is part of Michigan's resurgence, and we will continue to focus on that work this year.”

State Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, Huntington Woods
“In order to move forward, we must renew our commitment to investing in education at all levels, and for all ages of students. We cannot afford to turn our back on the promise of a high-quality and affordable system of public education for all our citizens. It is a matter of economic necessity.”

Nancy Schlichting, Henry Ford Health System
“I would change the culture in the state. We often behave as victims. I think we need to adopt more pride in what we have and what we can do with it. We tend to look backward as opposed to looking at what the opportunities are.”

House Speaker Pro Tempore Pro John Walsh, Livonia
“Although 2011 brought numerous reductions in outdated and inefficient government regulations, there is still more work to be done to improve job growth. Regulatory reform will be a key focus in 2012 as we continue to fix state government and get Michigan back to work. This can be done by streamlining the permitting process and promoting fair, simple and predictable regulations.”

House Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal, Battle Creek
“Michigan cannot progress if policy makers continue to dismantle our education system. Going forward, we must re-invest in our schools and our young people. They will ultimately be the driving force behind our economy and the key to securing Michigan's future stability.”

Amy Butler, OU INCubator
“To move forward in statewide collaboration of the resources at our universities and build a strong connection between them the business community to drive innovation and economic development.”

Julie Gustafson, Macomb-OU Incubator
“I would encourage statewide focus, energy and resources on reducing the crime in Detroit, the heart of Michigan. I realize there are initiatives under way to work on this issue; however, I do feel the degree of this initiative has to be enormous and embraced statewide, not just by government but by the people.”

Matt Cullen, Rock Ventures
“Given what my focus has been for a lot of years relative to the City of Detroit, I would make sure we had a very focused urban approach and strategy.  Most of our graduates getting out of school are interested in living in an exciting urban environment. They are going to Chicago and Boston and New York and so on. They aren’t going to the suburbs of those communities; they are going to the hearts of those downtowns.

“In order for us to be competitive from an economic perspective over time, we need to keep the product of our universities within the state, and the way to do that initially is to have strong urban cores in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, etc., that are very attractive to young people to move to, set up businesses and pursue entrepreneurial initiatives.”

State Rep. Lisa L. Howze, Detroit
“My goal is to become the 63rd mayor of the City of Detroit in 2013 and help lead Michigan's largest city back to prominence and prosperity. By restoring confidence in the city's ability to manage its financial affairs, the state can freely move forward to address other pressing issues.”

Jack Weiner, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital
“Continue to enhance the business climate in every way possible. Continue the enhancements to the transportation system, including high-speed rail.”

Gene Michalski, Beaumont Health System
“Michigan should continue its efforts to be in the lead in electronic connectivity. Being a ‘most wired’ state has advantages for many businesses and for residents of our state.”

L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County
“I’d continue to diversify the economic base so that all our eggs are not in the automotive basket.”

Patricia Maryland, St. John Providence Health System
“Ensure that we provide healthcare that is of the highest quality at the lowest cost for Michigan businesses. This will positively affect every business’ bottom line.”

Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, U-M Health System
“Make sure that everyone has access to the incredible healthcare resources we have in this state. Good preventive care, and appropriate handling of chronic conditions, can make the difference in our workforce’s productivity and our state’s success.”

State Rep. Rudy Hobbs, Southfield
“One thing that is essential to moving Michigan forward would be to expand investment in our citizens’ human capital. Fundamentally this requires education and retaining our young educated Michiganders. Against the backdrop of economic downturn, education must be made into a more effective conduit for the retraining of unemployed workers towards in-demand industries and professions in the state of Michigan. That is happening now, as there are various community college programs performing admirably in the retraining of out-of-work Michiganders.

“However, with the depth and scale of Michigan's economic downturn, there should be a concerted effort to expand and proliferate these programs and create a new ‘education-industrial complex’ that can adequately retrain all out-of-work Michiganders who want to acquire in-demand skills for new employment.”

Mark Hackel, Macomb County
“One thing that would move Michigan forward would be to reduce the number of governmental units. Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to reinvent the way we provide services and to reach across municipal boundaries to find solutions to common issues.”

Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK
“We need to continue to place emphasis on regional economic development and the open source model. This collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors builds on Michigan’s unique assets and effectively uses them to support our driving industries, like automotive/manufacturing and IT/software. Driving industries are comprised of companies selling goods and services to global markets, and their growth will boost Michigan’s GDP. If our driving industries are strong, then other businesses, like suppliers and service providers, will thrive in support of them.”

Dr. Lewis Walker, Lawrence Technological University
“Fix K-12 education.”

What would you tell an international business leader about Michigan in an effort to attract his/her business to the state?

David E. Cole, AutoHarvest
“We are working to make Michigan an international business center. We respect and like people from all over the world. We have a large international population that has put down deep roots in Michigan.”

Ken Rogers, Automation Alley
“We have a skilled and educated workforce with an exceptional work ethic. Great educational institutions for training and retraining purposes. If you want to be in the vehicle business in North America, you need a business address in Michigan. Our quality of life compares favorably with any location in America. In Michigan we can and do make anything.”

Ron Gardhouse, NextEnergy 
“Michigan has a very strong set of tools for helping early-stage companies launch business and commercialize innovative technologies. Michigan’s strength is in its established industries, markets, supply chain and manufacturing capabilities that provide everything needed in the state for taking a product to market.

“The economic development agency support is unique in that it partners with companies in many ways. Whatever it takes to help a company be successful, grow and prosper.”

Leslie Smith, TechTown 
“There are low barriers to entry, strong support systems (such as TechTown's NBIA-certified International Soft Landings program), powerful industry partners and the cost to establish a foothold is low compared to similar U.S. urban centers.”

Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, Marshall
“Our state has a history of producing talented, hardworking and innovative individuals who are dedicated to their organizations. This high-quality, well-educated and well-trained workforce has attracted many successful multinational corporations, such as Nestlé Global and Siemens AG. Our pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit has helped Michiganders found such successful companies as the Ford Motor Company, Whirlpool Corporation, the Stryker Corporation and the Kellogg Company. Such training, commitment, and innovative spirit will offer a competitive advantage to any company willing to hire Michigan's citizens.”

State Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, Huntington Woods
“I would tell them that the spirit of invention is alive and well in Michigan!!  As a patent attorney (before serving in the State House) I saw this firsthand. Remember, we put the world on wheels. Invention and innovation, so critical to business success, is what we do best. It is in our bones”

Nancy Schlichting, Henry Ford Health System
“We have so many different cultures and people from around the world who work in our state. We are accustomed to having those differences and we are more comfortable than many in terms of that diversity. I would talk about talent. I would talk about quality of life. We have many companies that have been in business here for over 100 years and I think we are resilient. Our ability to continue to grow and develop is very positive for business.”

House Speaker Pro Tempore Pro John Walsh, Livonia
“The work the Legislature did in 2011 to create a structurally sound budget and pay down long-term debt brought good news concerning Michigan's economic standing. The Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of the States report listed Michigan as having the second-best economic record among the 50 states and the Fitch rating agency upgraded Michigan's credit rating from stable to positive.”

House Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal, Battle Creek
“Michigan is the job hub for the Great Lakes Region. Our roads, rails and waterways can quickly connect a business to other states and regions, in addition to Canada. Our airports send flights throughout the country and the world to provide quick access to customers around the globe. Our communities are diverse and are home to people of many nationalities — many of whom came to Michigan to get their education at our outstanding universities.

“The University of Michigan is a world-class research university with one of the most respected health systems in the nation and they just opened the newly renovated and cutting-edge Mott Children's Hospital. Michigan State University is home to the latest in physics research with their Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and they have already started work on building the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams --which will make MSU the home for world-class scientific research well into the future. For all of these reasons, and many more, Michigan is one of the top places in the country — and the world — to grow a business.”

Amy Butler, OU INCubator
“Michigan is uniquely positioned to accelerate a business’ growth and sustainability. The state leverages its years of experience in engineering and manufacturing, with a strong university framework, talented workforce and abundant natural resources to support the business needs. Michigan’s economic goals focus both in attraction and in retention and growth; so support continues through a number of programs to help accelerate a company once here.”

Julie Gustafson, Macomb-OU Incubator
“Business friendly, entrepreneurial mindset, innovative, hardworking, educated. One of highest concentrations of engineers in the country, outstanding manufacturing capabilities, great real estate value, Detroit is a port city, good hospitals/education, Lots of research going on, SmartZones, excellent state programs to assist businesses, available workforce.”

Matt Cullen, Rock Ventures
“Michigan is a great place to do business and a great place to live. We need to help make entrepreneurs and the business community outside of Michigan aware of our many assets from a business perspective. There’s a tremendous quality of life here with the Great Lakes, a world-class university system and a strong work ethic. We have a deep supply of available labor with strong technical capabilities and Michigan has a strong entrepreneurial spirit that’s really starting to be showcased through an expanding array of venture initiatives.”

State Rep. Lisa L. Howze, Detroit
“Michigan has a treasure chest of opportunities to attract foreign investment. The primary attraction is Michigan's location along the international border shared by Canada, which provides five ports of entry to transport goods, carry freight and conduct trade. Michigan has already demonstrated its strength in attracting global companies to its business incubator located at Wayne State University's Technology and Research Park, called TechTown. TechTown has been instrumental in educating entrepreneurs and spurring innovation and growth in the region. An international company would want to take advantage of the opportunities available at and through TechTown.”

Jack Weiner, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital
“Michigan has a dedicated workforce, an outstanding healthcare system, relatively low healthcare costs and a strong university system to support research and development initiatives.”

Gene Michalski, Beaumont Health System
“I would emphasize Michigan’s highly skilled, motivated workforce and our area’s often unrecognized bioscientific and biotechnology expertise, factors that provide an opportunity for innovation in medical technology, intellectual property development and commercialization. Michigan also offers great quality of life with its natural features and recreational opportunities.”

L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County
“I’d tell the international business leader to speak to those foreign firms which are already here. There are 740 foreign firms in Oakland County alone. They are here because of the strong market, the good educational support and a well-trained workforce.”

Patricia Maryland, St. John Providence Health System
“Forget what you’ve heard of the economic downturn in Michigan. It is a thing of the past. We are fortunate in Michigan to have natural, human and manufactured resources to create new opportunities.”

Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, U-M Health System
“Forget what you think you know about us. Come see for yourself.”

State Rep. Rudy Hobbs, Southfield
"Location, location, location" for one, as international business leaders should be made aware of Michigan's ability to offer a dynamic advance to their U.S. operations. We are at the epicenter of international and regional trade. The international crossings between Michigan and Canada are the most economically active in the entire world. Likewise, our vicinity to the Mississippi River allows all businesses an effective channel to deliver their products efficiently and cost-effectively to other states in the Midwest and the South.

“Michigan's manufacturing base and our workers’ knowledge and capacity in this arena are also a natural complement to various international industries’ efforts to sell products to America's domestic market. Finally, our natural resources are abundant, especially Michigan's access to the Great Lakes, and offer a natural advantage that business leaders in other states simply do not enjoy.”

Mark Hackel, Macomb County
“I would communicate a message of perseverance and opportunity. By locating your business here in Michigan you will have the capability to find the perfect location, amenities and partnerships needed to take your operation to new heights.”

Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK
“The time to invest and expand business in Michigan is now. Collaboration between regional and statewide economic development agencies is creating a climate where the critical business needs of companies can be addressed in an innovative and effective manner. The cost of doing business is low, while the amount of skilled knowledge workers in Michigan is high.”

 

What is your vision for the future of Michigan?
 

David E. Cole, AutoHarvest
“My vision for Michigan's future is that of our forefathers: a wonderful place to live, be educated, work and retire. To have a population that respects all people and works as a team. Also to be a leader in the global economy, particularly in making things that people need and want.”

Ken Rogers, Automation Alley
“A knowledge-based society that competes favorably with any other location in the country. An economy that is diversified, with an emphasis on entrepreneurialism. A flexible and responsive educational system with opportunities focused on delivering a workforce demanded by an ever-changing business world. The state should be a national leader in the business of exporting as the need to discover new global markets is of utmost importance to our business community.”

William Ford Jr., Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
“I envision a day when Michigan becomes a thriving international hub, not only for the automotive industry, but for many other industries such as pharmaceutical, communications, mobility, agriculture and others.  With the automotive industry already at its core, Michigan is an incubator for emerging technologies such as new materials and communications and mobility technologies. This same ingenuity and talent can be harnessed to foster growth and make Michigan a leader in other sectors.”

Ron Gardhouse, NextEnergy 
“We envision the realization of three goals: 1) Michigan affirms its position as a global leader in the automotive industry and owns the developments in vehicle electrification. 2) Given the state’s existing skill sets, manufacturing jobs return to Michigan in droves. 3) Michigan becomes the new recognized ‘hot spot’ for innovation in areas such as advanced energy technologies, life sciences and the like.”

Sharon Miller, OCC
“I see Michigan setting the new standard for being lean, highly efficient and high quality in all that it does: education, business, manufacturing, and government. This recession has motivated us to consolidate, cooperate and innovate — and we are facing the challenge head on!”

Leslie Smith, TechTown 
“I envision an economically diverse industrial base flush with thriving small businesses and young adults who graduate from universities to stay in Michigan to advance their careers, be they corporate or entrepreneurial.”

House Speaker Jase Bolger, Marshall
“In order to make Michigan a better place to grow a career, we must continue to make Michigan a better place to provide a job. We need Michigan to be the place where our children and grandchildren can find successful careers so they can remain here to live, work and raise a family, just as our parents and grandparents did. I refuse to acquiesce to those who think Michigan's best days are behind us. I believe our future can be brighter and that Michiganders can get ahead in the Great Lakes State if they work hard and play by the rules.”

State Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, Huntington Woods
“Because of our manufacturing history and entrepreneurial spirit, I envision a state where we are inventing and making the cars of the future, the advanced batteries of the future, the medical devices and therapies of the future and more. We have always been a net exporter of intellectual property. In the future, we should focus on the logical companion to invention, and that is commercialization.”

Nancy Schlichting, Henry Ford Health System
“My vision is for growth. While manufacturing hopefully will always be a strength for us, we can adopt new technologies in the state and a new business focus. I think innovation and collaboration are going to be part of our future and will really bode well for what we can do.”

House Speaker Pro Tempore Pro John Walsh, Livonia
“My vision for Michigan is a state where businesses are flourishing and creating jobs in all sectors, led by agriculture, automotive, healthcare, and tourism. This vision includes good-paying jobs that are attracting people of all ages to live in Michigan, making this a state where people know their children and grandchildren have a future.”

House Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal, Battle Creek
“The future that I envision for Michigan is not just a state that builds things first, but also a state that thinks things first. In order to get there, we must re-think our priorities. Rather than focusing on divisive policies that tear us apart, we need to start reinvesting in our people. We need a state where our students have the resources they need to compete, our small businesses have the capital that they need to grow and create jobs, and our workers have fair wages and benefits to preserve our middle class.”

Amy Butler, OU INCubator
“I envision Michigan’s future as one with a strong economy with a well trained workforce; one where we have embraced energy efficiency and alternative forms of energy which will reduce our dependence on imported oil and resources, keeping more disposable dollars in our income; and one where education is affordable and relevant to the needs of the future employers. Where we understand what has happened in the past, and use those experiences to develop a strong eye to the future where we talk about ourselves in a positive and forward-thinking sense.”

Julie Gustafson, Macomb-OU Incubator
“My vision for Michigan would be to become a top travel and business destination in the world.”

Matt Cullen, Rock Ventures
“My vision for the future would be to focus on the things that are important and celebrate them and continue to hold them up. For example, our quality of life, from a Great Lakes and an environmental standpoint, make Michigan a great place to live and work. We need to protect and maintain that.

“We also need to make sure that our school systems are of a caliber that allows our great university systems to be fed with the bright young minds they need. We need to take advantage of our young talent and their technical skills — and nurture them in the world-class cities to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will allow us to grow successful businesses.”

State Rep. Lisa L. Howze, Detroit
“Michigan will be a world-class state when its separate communities understand that we are all inextricably tied together. Our collective strength is greater when all communities are thriving and not only a select few. The state will benefit from its investment in education, and graduating students will want to remain in Michigan to start their careers and families here.”

Jack Weiner, St. Joseph Oakland Mercy Hospital
“Full employment with a fully engaged workforce benefiting from a nationally competitive wage scale that provides an opportunity for people to truly enjoy their lives.”

Gene Michalski, Beaumont Health System
“We support efforts for Michigan to regain its economic strength and achieve an unemployment rate that’s among the lowest in the nation with a revitalized City of Detroit. We need to stop the ‘brain drain’ and keep our best and brightest young people here in Michigan. Finally, Michigan should be an international leader in engineering and robotics in a diversified economy.”

L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County
“My vision for Michigan’s future is to participate actively in the knowledge-based economy – it’s the next revolution.”

Patricia Maryland, St. John Providence Health System
“My vision for our state’s future is that our talented younger generation will choose to remain here. In fact, Michigan will become a destination state for innovation and young talent.”

Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, U-M Health System
“A healthy workforce driving healthy communities, healthy institutions and a healthy economy; a thriving hub of innovation and industry, where new ideas are encouraged, supported, tested and implemented; and where investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and the best and brightest students from around the globe want to live, learn and thrive.”

State Rep. Rudy Hobbs, D-Southfield
“As a state representative, my vision for Michigan's future is one that has a diverse and robust state economy. We will have a newly expanded manufacturing sector that serves industries such as the automotive, aerospace, defense, agriculture, energy (including clean energy), and other technology fields.

“But our economy will be even more diverse than a larger manufacturing industry, with bustling expansion and cultivation of exceptional growth industries such as agriculture, healthcare, international tourism, and others. More than that, Michigan's future will be one where a diverse economy and a well-educated workforce will mean plenty of opportunity for long-term employment for every Michigander.”

Mark Hackel, Macomb County
“The vision I have for Michigan’s future is based on diversity of people and industry. This future should be flush with enterprises and partnerships that will allow each of us to bring our unique traditions, perspectives and ideas to the table and develop new ways to create community and business.”

Dr. Malcolm Henoch, Chief Medical Officer, Oakwood Healthcare
“Michigan is poised to make a new global mark on sources of energy development and resource conservation. The concentration of human talent in engineering, in related businesses and the abundant natural resources (especially in water) are essential elements to produce this new discovery and development for the United States and the world.”

Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK
“Michigan will be an economic driver of the U.S. economy with internationally recognized talent in smart cities like Ann Arbor leading the way. Michigan continues to build on its legacy as a powerhouse of manufacturing and entrepreneurial spirit, and that mentality is serving Michigan well as we apply those strengths to other driving industries beyond automotive, like IT/software, defense and life sciences.”

Dr. Lewis Walker, Lawrence Technological University
“Michigan holds great promise as a design and creative center and an engineering and innovation center. We need to create a culture of entrepreneurship, a place where entrepreneurs can thrive and if they fail, be able to try again. I think Michigan can develop the same type of cachet as the Greater Boston area in this regard.”

 

If you could set the agenda for Lansing lawmakers, what would be at the top of the list?

David E. Cole, AutoHarvest
“I would put two things at the top of the list: have a truly competitive business climate and make sure we are educating our population for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Ken Rogers, Automation Alley
“Support and fund successful job and business accelerators with proven track records. Increase their opportunity to do more.”

William Ford Jr., Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
“Most importantly, we need an efficient and metrics-based government, one that aligns its policies with businesses and the customers.  We need to find innovative ways to streamline and allow investment in infrastructure, education and strong urban centers. Michigan also needs fiscal stability, because a strong economy encourages businesses to invest more rapidly in their own future. We’re already seeing a lot of great progress in this area, which needs to continue.”

Ron Gardhouse, NextEnergy
“The establishment of a clean-energy fund for the state as a way to support and grow critical intellectual property positions for Michigan firms in the growing energy markets. This would allow the state to strengthen its innovation position and have pathways to solve industry problems, find solutions and eventually increase Michigan’s export of new energy products.”

Leslie Smith, TechTown 
“Topping the list should be continued support of higher education, entrepreneurial ecosystems and risk capital to deploy, to seed, launch, grow and mature small businesses.”

Nancy Schlichting, Henry Ford Health System
“Number one is education. It’s critical in this state that we continue to offer very high quality education at all levels. There is a shortage of skilled workers in this country and there are not many low-skill jobs left. It’s very important that our young people and those who are in a career who need to be retrained have the opportunity to participate right here at home.

“Number two is that we have to have an urban strategy and it has be a collaborative strategy with governmental as well as private sector leaders. We have to figure out Detroit in a very important way.”

Amy Butler, OU INCubator
“I would encourage the renewable energy production tax credit as it’s a key stimulator of jobs and diversity in our manufacturing, and a strong focus on making education affordable.”

Julie Gustafson, Macomb-OU Incubator
“After Detroit, I would put ‘working on speed to market.’  Speed and agility to market are so essential for business today. Identify what can be sped up in business assistance process, speed it up and then brand the heck out of it. One example—processing state program funds for businesses — makes it quicker than anyone else. There are enough smart people in this state that would volunteer to help speed up the processes. As an example of how we are going to be doing this with the Macomb OU INCubator, we are looking into branding speed by guaranteeing a business assessment to our clients within 24 hours and starting the work on putting together a customized business advisory team for them within 48 hours.

Matt Cullen, Rock Ventures
“We need to focus on the key initiatives for the state that will make us successful and try to stay out of the partisan games, which sometimes cause distractions. Also, we need to focus on developing strong cities as the center of vibrant regions. The perspective that the state or Southeast Michigan can be successful without a vibrant City of Detroit is not accurate. If we’re going to create a vibrant economy with jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities and spark economic development, we need to become a growing state and not a shrinking region.”

Jack Weiner, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital
“Creating a part-time legislature. Deal swiftly and effectively with the major issues and move on!”

Gene Michalski, Beaumont Health System
“We lack a regional transportation system and it’s important that we address this because it is key to job creation and to keeping young people here. This includes the governor’s plan for a new bridge to Canada. We also support changes in the Medicaid program, to reward high-quality, low-cost health systems.”

L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County
“At the top of my list would be structural reforms when it comes to taxes and regulations so we can be as competitive as other states against whom we are trying to attract business.”

Patricia Maryland, St. John Providence Health System
“We are hopeful that the Michigan House will pass legislation allowing for the creation of the MIHealth Marketplace, Michigan’s Health Insurance Exchange. This exchange will allow small groups and individuals to take advantage of the benefits enjoyed by larger groups by reducing administrative overhead and making insurance-plan details more accessible.”

Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, U-M Health System
“Stronger and sustained support for the research universities and teaching hospitals that create the future through discoveries in science and medicine, and train the healthcare workforce and thought leaders of tomorrow.”

Mark Hackel, Macomb County
“Lansing lawmakers must protect and fortify revenue sources to counties and local municipalities.  Revenue sharing and personal property taxes are essential to local government services and programs.”

Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK
“Michigan needs to be entrepreneurial as a state to unlock the potential of second stage companies. Research has shown that these companies, who have over a million in revenue and between 10-99 employees, are the job creators in our economy. Finding innovative ways to support the growth of these companies will create many new employment opportunities for the state.”

Dr. Lewis Walker, Lawrence Technological University
“I like the recent trends I’ve seen so far. We need to do whatever we can to foster an atmosphere of innovation, encourage an innovative entrepreneurial culture and develop incentives to make education work. And, we need to continue to expand our global perspective and create the high-end, high-quality products that allow us to compete.”

 


To Legislators: What is at the top of your list in terms of what you would like to accomplish in Lansing?

House Speaker Jase Bolger, Marshall
“We must continue with the positive changes we have made by upending the status quo, and we must be diligent to never let state government slip back into the old ways of doing business. In addition to maintaining our forward momentum, we must seek out elimination of the most onerous remaining roadblocks to job creation.

“For example, we cannot become a top-10 state for the treatment of businesses as long as the state's Personal Property Tax on equipment investments exists. We must find a way to responsibly eliminate that tax if we are to truly succeed as a magnet for job providers.”

State Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, Huntington Woods
“During my last term, I worked hard on passing legislation to encourage more domestic angel investment in Michigan's start-up and emerging businesses. We need to work harder on this because small businesses are the engines of our economic recovery and, ultimately, our economic prosperity. In the current term, I am working on education funding and, more particularly, the adequacy of our public school funding.”

House Speaker Pro Tempore Pro John Walsh, Livonia
“I hope to pass HB 4496, which will permit but not require certain community colleges to offer a baccalaureate degree in maritime technology, concrete technology, culinary arts and energy production technology and a bachelor of science in nursing. This legislation will use existing community college infrastructure, facilities, faculty and programming to avoid duplication at the university level. Additionally, it will enable our state's community colleges to respond to the demand from growing industries and the need in areas of the state that are underserved by Michigan's current higher education. Michigan's economy will greatly benefit from this legislation as it increases the access and opportunities for students and the selection of trained workers for employers.”

House Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal, Battle Creek
“Restoring Michigan's economy is my top priority. That is why my Democratic colleagues and I introduced the ‘Invest in Michigan: Small Business Jobs’ package aimed at strengthening small businesses, spurring entrepreneurship and startups, and putting people back to work by rewarding small local businesses that hire unemployed Michiganders.

“The proposal includes supporting innovators to bring their ideas to the marketplace, providing more cooperation between the public and private sectors to grow businesses at all stages of development, increasing access to capital and offering other highly targeted small business tax credits. The new program will be transparent and include strong accountability measures to track its success.”

State Rep. Lisa L. Howze, Detroit
“My goal is to advocate and win support for policies that will help shore up the financial stability of the City of Detroit. I will continue to work hard to shape the opinion in Lansing that Detroit is worthy of investment and that there is disciplined leadership from Detroit that represents both the city and state's best interest.”

State Rep. Rudy Hobbs, Southfield
“At the top of my list in terms of what I would like to accomplish in my time in the Legislature is to know that when I leave Lansing, education quality in Michigan will be even better than when I came up here. As a former teacher and Southfield school board member, I am passionate about education and its ability to transform the lives of those who are trapped within economically desperate times. It is a stepping stone to a better life for all Michiganders, those trapped by the decline of former stalwart industries in our state and who now require new skills that will gain them employment in cutting-edge industries in our state.”

 


To Healthcare Leaders: How has the Affordable Care Act changed the landscape for hospitals/health systems in Michigan?

Nancy Schlichting, Henry Ford Health System
“Michigan is very well prepared for the Affordable Care Act because the health reform includes a focus on improving quality and we have a tremendous resource in the state – the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Keystone Center for Patient Safety & Quality — which offers opportunities for hospitals and doctors to collaborate on improvements in quality, which will mitigate the rise in healthcare costs over time. The quality of healthcare in our state is really high, which is important as an overall driver of positive change. Our investments in information technology in the state are significant and are important as we try to better integrate care and help patients and their families navigate healthcare in a more efficient and effective way.”

Jack Weiner, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital
“It is completely transforming the way we have to do business. There are a tremendous number of unknowns that will cause businesses to modify or abandon the provision of healthcare through traditional means. The Affordable Care Act will push workforce into high deductible healthcare programs so businesses can avoid high costs of penalties and fees.”

Gene Michalski, Beaumont Health System
“Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals will be required to manage the care of patients across many locations of service: this is well under way at Beaumont. Through our Centers of Excellence and Clinical Integration Councils, we are streamlining care for patients, from the inpatient to outpatient setting, and improving coordination and quality of care while reducing cost. Our fully implemented electronic health record links our hospitals, outpatient medical centers, nursing homes and physician offices.”

Patricia Maryland, St. John Providence Health System
“I am proud that St. John Providence Health System has formed an unprecedented 50-50 partnership with our physicians, called Partners in Care, which is launching us to deliver coordinated care to patient populations through a lifetime of health management. I applaud our physician partners for their visionary leadership.”

Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, U-M Health System
“We actually helped prove a key principle of the ACA: that it’s possible to improve the health of entire populations and the quality of care while also making healthcare processes more efficient and cost-effective. We did this in a program that was a forerunner of Accountable Care Organizations, and now we’ve partnered with other institutions to form the first of what we hope will be several ACOs of our own.”

Dr. Malcolm Henoch, Oakwood Healthcare
“Far more important than the individual mandate are the incentives and requirements that will drive redesign and reinvention of our current healthcare delivery system. These will make us more responsive and responsible for our services.

“We're designing and operating services that are far more replicable, safe, and reliable than even a decade ago.  And we're beginning to accept responsibility together with our patients (customers) and our communities for improving health, not simply treating disease.

“We've already created new partnerships with our physicians to pursue opportunities with Medicare for shared savings, and will do the same with bundling of care.  We've invested in clinical information systems (electronic health records).  And we've implemented systems to measure, analyze, and improve our processes of care.”

 

To Education Leaders: What is the most important role education will play in Michigan’s future?

Sharon Miller, OCC
“It is critical that education integrate more closely with business and industry in order to keep pace with their ever-changing needs. We may need to lean more heavily on work based learning in the form of internships and co-operative education, or bring business leaders into the classroom.”

Dr. Lewis Walker, Lawrence Technological University
“Strong education is essential for the kinds of jobs we need to move to. We need a highly educated workforce both at the labor and professional levels. We need to increase the number of students in higher education, particularly in STEM areas, and serve them better.”

 

SPONSORED BY OAKLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE