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Michigan’s Talented Future

Page 30

By Rick Snyder

To paraphrase a line from one of America’s greatest baseball films, if you build it, they will come.

I look at my first term as governor as a period of reinventing Michigan by getting our foundation reset. We needed to eliminate deficits and get our budget truly structurally balanced. We needed to pay down debts and get our credit rating in order. We needed to ensure a simple, fair and efficient tax system and cut out burdensome, outdate regulations. We needed to resolve Detroit’s financial crisis. And we needed to strategically invest in core priorities that ensure our state’s quality of life.

Since December of 2010, Michigan has added nearly 400,000 private sector jobs, and our unemployment rate has been cut in half – making us 2nd in most improved economic health and 5th most in private sector job creation. We jumped to 10th from 49th in improved corporate tax climate, and to 6th from 41st in entrepreneurial climate. We have the 2nd most improved credit health in the nation. Detroit’s bankruptcy was resolved in record time and there’s a positive energy and investment underway that’s unmistakable. We’ve put targeted resources toward early education, K-12 and higher education, along with public safety, health and wellness and community revitalization. We’ve worked together, creating a culture of Relentless Positive Action. Our mitalent.org site boasts just under 95,000 open jobs.

So now the jobs are here – how do we make sure we have the people to fill them? Now that our foundation and finances are on solid footing, I will focus even more on growing and retaining Michigan’s number one asset: its talent.

There is no doubt in my mind that Michigan is home to the most talented people in the nation. From the farmers producing blueberries along the Lake Michigan shoreline to the folks making state of the art watches in Detroit, there is no greater talent than what is homegrown. Our challenge is to keep that talent here in Michigan.

I believe that great success comes from collaboration. Even within state government, we need to make sure we are connecting the right resources. To streamline this process, I recently created the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, and within it, the Talent Investment Agency. By bringing job creation and economic development efforts together, we can better prepare Michigan’s workforce to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

An MEDC grant of $50 million has kickstarted new investment in the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program, an effort to help close a talent gap and meet the current demand for good-paying jobs by enabling community colleges to purchase equipment required for educational programs in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand occupations. The program also requires collaboration with school districts and a detailed plan on how the funding will help meet employers’ job needs.

By continuing and honing this focus, we will be the country’s leader in talent creation, connection and collaboration, and No. 1 in skilled trades opportunities and careers.

We also need to continue our work in urban revitalization. For the first time in decades, people are moving into Detroit and our other cities, not out of them. Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Traverse City and so many more communities are humming. We want to make sure city neighborhoods and communities of all shapes and sizes all across our state have that same growth and energy. I remain deeply committed to this.

In Michigan, we have basic industries that have been pillars of our economy for decades – such as manufacturing and agriculture. Both of those sectors have seen tremendous resurgence in the past few years, and now we have added sectors that are exciting to young people too. Our emerging talent and potential is boundless. Made in Michigan means something special to the rest of the nation and the world.

We didn’t just need to reinvent the Michigan for today, we need to build a state that families and young people will want to build their futures around. The momentum is strong, and I can’t wait to see what Michigan’s talented future holds. If we continue our historic collaboration to build upon this foundation and ensure this climate, they will come, they will stay and Michigan will be THE place to be – to live, work, do business, and play.