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Michigan Momentum

State poised for great run on global stage

By Nancy Schlichting
Page 12

As we gather for the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, it’s important to consider the tremendous progress being made throughout the state over the past year. As the 2012 Conference chair, I was thrilled to be involved  with such a critical discussion with the leaders of our great state  along with national experts such as Thomas Friedman and Fareed  Zakaria who provided a global perspective on Michigan.

Over the course of three exhilarating days, the Conference drove a dialogue focused on innovation, collaboration and the 21st century global market with the end goal of making Michigan more globally and fiscally competitive. We concluded with a To-Do List that will be reported at this year’s event and includes working with the Governor on a hiring conference for Michigan veterans, developing process maps to help businesses navigate city hall and sending a delegation of Detroit leaders on a lessons-learned trip focused on revitalization efforts in Washington, D.C., to highlight a few.

The overarching feeling from the 2012 Conference was that Michigan has indeed turned the corner and is poised to thrive as we move deeper into the 21st century.  In the months since the Conference, the momentum we highlighted on stage has continued as Michigan is emerging as the nation’s comeback state and leading the way in innovation and entrepreneurship. As some of the policies implemented under Governor Rick Snyder have had time to take hold, Michigan is creating jobs and building one of the best business climates in the nation.

In addition to the resurgent automotive industry, Michigan continues to make a national name for itself in dynamic industries like health care and information technology. The private sector continues to recognize the tremendous opportunity in Detroit and is investing big in the Motor City. Organizations such as Quicken Loans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and our team at Henry Ford Health System are investing in our city while the implementation of an emergency manager is beginning the process of addressing Detroit’s fiscal challenges.

As the momentum continues, it’ll be crucial to continue to spread the word that Michigan is not only open for business, it is the best place to do business. Sharing that message was a key takeaway from last year’s Conference.  Twenty-first century Michigan has the assets to be a global powerhouse – it’s up to us to continue to work together on a unified agenda that leverages those assets to grow meaningful economic opportunities for all Michigan businesses and citizens.

The progress toward building the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) is a perfect example. The project will have a tremendous economic impact through its construction and it will cement Michigan’s position as a premier hub in the global supply chain, bringing investment and growth. It took bold leadership and unprecedented levels of collaboration between groups throughout the state.

While the momentum is exciting, the innovation and collaboration under way need to continue. We will need more collaborative efforts like the one that is bringing the NITC to fruition. Michigan’s business, community and policy leaders need to address some key issues that could undermine our recovery.  Investments in roads, education and infrastructure are critical to Michigan’s future.  The candid discussions between the public and private sectors must

continue. Last year, we worked hard to help create a synergy among business, government, education and health care. I think we are seeing that synergy grow. It will be critical to Michigan’s ability to compete globally for decades to come.

Heading into the 2013 Conference, I am excited to see Chair Joe Welch and his team addressing the critical issues facing our state on the agenda.  He is bringing a strong sense of accountability to the Conference with a To-Do List again this year. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds on stage – much like I can’t wait to see how our state performs globally.

Nancy Schlichting is CEO of Henry Ford Health System and served as chair of the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference.