When you’re trying to make up lost ground, being competitive isn’t enough. You have to dig deeper, push harder, do more.
Michigan has a greatly improved business climate that’s made us competitive again, and that’s great. But we cannot afford to be complacent when we still have an average unemployment rate, below average income levels and flat population growth.
The fact is the places we are competing with have good business climates too. And our competitors offer strong economic development incentives that attract and retain new job providers.
Expanding our economic development tool box to match those of our surrounding states shouldn’t be controversial. Neither should investing to produce more highly educated and trained talent. Or even the decision to make sure we have better roads and bridges. But too often, ideology or political posturing gets in the way of progress on issues that matter to our future.
The states that have been the most successful over the past few decades do whatever it takes. They make sure they are giving their all when it comes to attracting jobs. They proactively invest in community colleges, universities, roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure possible as they understand that these things are the fundamental to fueling growth.
In Michigan, however, we have vacillated for decades over how aggressively to incent new investment, keep college affordable or repair our infrastructure. It shows as we rank below average in economic development effort, education attainment and road conditions.
Let’s find the political will to do better at building these fundamental blocks of economic growth. Until we do, Michigan will find itself stuck where it stands today…in low gear.