Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Shaping Michigan’s Future

Shaping Michigan’s Future

May 30, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Michigan needs a long-term economic development strategy with sustained investments that fund R&D and site readiness.
  • Michigan can help address the talent gap by leveraging “boomerangs” and underutilized talent, including returning citizens.
  • Becoming a top ten state includes addressing education, support services, and workplace culture.


The State of Michigan has a unique set of strengths, including agriculture, natural resources, and world-class universities — yet attracting and retaining talent today remains an ongoing challenge.

During a panel discussion on shaping Michigan’s future moderated by Walker, a group of top executives shared concerns that too many young people are leaving the state, more educational resources are needed, and how affordable housing will help young people put down roots and stay in Michigan.

On R&D Credits, Creating Comprehensive Economic Toolbox

Equally important is the goal of having assets that will attract “boomerangs,” or young adults that return live with their parents for a time due to the economy.

“Fifty percent of the people we’re educating are leaving our state — many of them are staying, but it’s not nearly enough,” Keller said.

Pierce highlighted the need for developing a more comprehensive “economic toolbox.”

“We are one of only 13 states in this country without a pool for research and development,” said Pierce. “We’re one of eight without a payroll tax credit. We don’t have enough site-ready investments. … [The Michigan Economic Development Corporation] is working hard, but we have to do more.”

On Attracting Talent Back to Michigan Through Affordable Housing, Starter-level Jobs

When it comes to addressing the talent gap and luring people to stay in Michigan, Keller expressed optimism in the manufacturing sector with providing starter-level jobs.

King is helping create jobs in Detroit. She has found it essential to engage with local communities to provide education about electric vehicles (EVs) and share the advantages of working in the sector.

“I wanted to keep [my company] in Michigan, and more importantly, I wanted to keep it in the city of Detroit,” King said. “My thought process was to capitalize on the engineers that are here, capitalize on the skilled labor, and capitalize on the vendors that are here, which I knew had the ability to matriculate into this EV industry very easily.”

Overall, panelists agreed that a reinvestment in K-12 education is essential.

“We’re going to be dealing with the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic for the next 15 years,” Keller said.

She cited the importance of STEM education, exposure to manufacturing, and creating talent links between companies and local colleges and universities. Also important for attracting and retaining talent is providing better childcare and support services for workers, she added.

On Working Post COVID-19

The post-pandemic increase in remote and hybrid work remains an issue many companies are adjusting to.

Stewart said that for her company, being in the office remains a requirement. In order to attract talent, she found that creating a culture where people want to be there is key.

“We have recruited people from Washington State, Florida, Austin, and New York,” she said. “These are all young people with a ton of opportunities, including the opportunity to work remotely.”

This session was sponsored by PNC Bank.