Detroit Regional Chamber > Chamber > Business Experts Weigh in on the 2024 State of the Region Report

Business Experts Weigh in on the 2024 State of the Region Report

February 29, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • The panelists were cautiously optimistic about the report’s findings and Michigan’s future.
  • Public perceptions of the economy and workplace are skewed, particularly with younger generations, despite indicators of steadying inflation on the horizon.
  • Investments in education and utilizing new technology can contribute to an attractive, thriving workforce in Michigan.

Following the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2024 State of the Region report release presentation by Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah, the following business and economic leaders took the stage with WDIV-TV’s Devin Scillian to provide their analysis of what the numbers mean for the Detroit Region’s economic health and how they impact businesses moving forward:

  • Ron Hall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bridgewater Interiors, LLC
  • Anna Paulson, Executive Vice President, Director of Research, and Executive Committee Member of The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
  • And Peter Quigley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kelly

A “Glass Quarter Full” Approach

Scillian opened the panel, asking each panelist to share their reactions to the findings from the 2024 State of the Region report – prosperous or perilous. The panel’s consensus was to view the report’s findings from a “glass half full” approach, or in the case of the dissenting Hall, “a glass quarter full.”

The panelists echoed that education is vital to the Detroit Region to move in a more positive direction – that includes the economy, the future of the automotive industry, and the quality of life for the residents. While there is much to be improved upon, all the panel agreed that the state and residents have the necessary resources available to achieve a brighter future.

Inflation is Down, So is Public Perception

Despite the report’s findings, the public has a less positive outlook on the future, particularly with Millennials and Gen Z. Quigley interprets this as “the workforce is struggling with a sort of angst” because of their insecurity towards wage growth and job security.

Paulson supported this, saying that last year’s swift rising wages for lower-income earners and the slowing growth of the economy are misinterpreted as “perilous” rather than the successful outcome of reduced inflation. Due to the public having been flooded with inflation reports over the past year, she said that it is at the forefront of the public’s mind, impacting their everyday decisions and creating wariness towards the economy.

From the perspective of a father of Millennials, Hall shared that many Millennials are saying that they are “finding the grind harder than they anticipated,” and while inflation reduces, the higher prices consumers see at stores remain just as high.

Using AI and Remote Work to Michigan’s Advantage

As a state with a majority of an aging population, Michigan’s economic effects have a deeper toll than other states, further exasperating the decline in workforce population and education systems. The panel discussed opportunities to reengage the population who left the workforce and opportunities to attract new talent.

Quigley discussed how employers can employ tools, such as AI, to create new jobs, streamline the hiring process, and improve productivity to make Michigan’s automotive and healthcare industries more attractive to work in.

Hall also suggested focusing on the unique value-sell that the state has to offer, such as the lower risk of climate change-related weather and a lower cost of living, and noted that the creative opportunities to attract and retain residents to the state are plentiful.

The panel concluded on a high note with the speakers in agreement that with a commitment to progress and engagement of the right resources, there will be a positive impact on the economy, which, in turn, can make the state’s population goal easier to attain.