Can Michigan be a Top Ten state for jobs, personal income and a healthy economy? Absolutely.
The current COVID-19 epidemic is going to make it harder for us to get there. Right now, unemployment is higher than it’s been in a long time, and the future seems unclear at best.
Getting Michigan’s economy back on track will undoubtedly take hard work and a coordinated effort from many. Creating and attracting sustainable, high-paying jobs is a critical piece of that puzzle.
Our current reality presents tremendous challenges, but also incredible opportunity. To come out on the winning side, we must continue to cultivate a business climate that supports entrepreneurship and growth no matter what the hardships are. Why? Because these are the conditions that allow business to thrive, creating the kinds of opportunities that can sustain and rebuild communities across Michigan.
Business Leaders of Michigan has a reasonable and actionable plan in place to create the kind of business environment where employees and employers alike can thrive. Michigan’s Road to Top Ten plan sets a clear, actionable framework for moving toward a future that is bright with economic promise.
Our work begins with clear, consistent efforts to maintain a competitive tax environment while continuing to modernize Michigan’s tax system. With the 11th best corporate tax climate and the 13th best overall business tax climate, Michigan consistently measures favorably against even the Top Ten U.S. states in these areas. Maintaining that competitive leadership and working to adopt broad, fair and flat taxes whenever practical will help to keep Michigan an attractive place to do business.
The same can be said for maintaining competitive energy prices. With electricity, natural gas, and gasoline costs all below Top Ten and peer state averages, Michigan is uniquely poised to stand out as an appealing place to do business. To get there, we need to maintain these critical advantages.
With the sustained presence of COVID-19, it’s about far more than just maintaining our strengths. There are concrete steps Michigan can take to better compete for good jobs, and that effort begins with improving our state’s economic development efforts.
Beyond that, we need to do more to better leverage the resources and capabilities the Michigan Economic Development Corporation brings to the effort to meet our state’s business talent needs. As a public-private partnership agency committed to economic development and job creation, the MEDC is uniquely positioned to assist the private sector’s efforts to attract talent, investment and good jobs here in state.
We can’t afford to be naïve when it comes to incentives and economic development programs. Not just other states, but other nations are working hard to attract high-quality employers. To compete, Michigan must maintain competitive economic development tools that attract and emphasize the growth of all businesses, large and small alike.
We should take steps to reinforce the agency as the single point of contact for business talent needs here in Michigan. As such, the plan recommends that MEDC facilitate greater collaboration and sharing of best practices among job training service providers, provide flexible on-demand training to employers expanding or relocating to Michigan and aggressively promote the agency’s burgeoning reputation for delivering on those kinds of services.
These are all reasonable steps Michigan can take to better deliver the kind of high-paying job opportunities that not only generate security for Michigan’s employees but also improve productivity and economic output for states countless employers as well.
During the remaining months of 2020, some of Lansing’s policymaking efforts will be clouded as we sort out the effects of a global pandemic. But we don’t have to go forward blindly. We have a solid plan for building good jobs and supporting future growth, and it’s essential we unite behind it.
The fact is, Michigan has unlimited potential to grow new jobs. The only question that remains is – will we seize the opportunity?