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Michigan’s Journey to Consistent Greatness Building a Championship Economy

By Quentin L. Messer Jr.

From a global pandemic that Michigan’s manufacturing prowess helped mitigate and a heightened awareness of the remaining work required to ensure economic inclusivity, to the acceleration of an electrifying shift in mobility and the supply chain challenges highlighted by the current Ukrainian tragedy – the past several years have proven that Michigan must be prepared to react to the pace of macroeconomic change.

Collectively, we have started to silence a lot of doubters in Team Michigan’s ability to play with pace. Significant work remains; however, more than 10 million Michiganders are on a journey to create a consistently great economic environment.

Michigan has an unequivocal right to win in creating the best economic opportunity in North America. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) North Star goal is to ensure that incumbent Michigan businesses have no reason to look elsewhere when it is time to invest in capital or workforce growth on the continent.

We embrace this goal whether we’re working with a startup company emerging from one of the state’s SmartZones or one of 17 Fortune 500 companies headquartered here. Alongside the Detroit Regional Chamber, among others, MEDC is creating an inviting business environment and aims to exhibit a customer service orientation that also makes our state attractive to new investment from businesses globally.

Economic Championships Begin with Winning Small Businesses

Among the lessons from the pandemic was that no business is small to its owner, its employees or community. The feed store, the beauty salon and the diner are more than a business. They are a sponsor of youth sports and a gathering place for life’s milestone moments.

Through 23 distinct relief programs that reached businesses in all 83 counties and distributed over $240 million in relief across both peninsulas, MEDC rose to the challenge and responded in the moment that COVID-19 brought. Equally important, we realized while that moment was finite, our deep engagement with small business could not be temporary. It needed to be a recommitment to a more intentional long-term engagement with small businesses and partners, like Small Business Development Center and Small Business Association of Michigan.

Michigan’s inventiveness built the auto industry and created the “road trip,” which has transformed tourism and remains alive and well in Pure Michigan. The vital next step in our championship journey is making it easier to connect more entrepreneurs to the mentoring, customers, and capital that will drive growth from microbusinesses to category-defining global leaders. Over the coming months, we anticipate that even more small businesses will benefit from MEDC’s reimagined small business support.

Winning Demands Getting Better Daily

Every great team asks itself, “how do we get better?” At MEDC, we ask this question daily – and we’ve identified a few answers:

  1. Take advantage of Michigan’s location advantage:
    “They who have water and non-extreme weather, win.”
  2. Make it easier for companies to retrain employees.
  3. Welcome the world with open arms.
  4. Lead a Team Michigan approach that transcends partisanship
    and understands economic growth is a joint endeavor.
  5. Invest in our knowledge and physical infrastructure.

We will continue our efforts in each of these key areas to ensure we are working collaboratively and with a customer focus to building a championship economy here in Michigan. Together, we can make it winning time!

Quentin L. Messer Jr. is chief executive officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation