Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroit Policy Conference > Shirley Stancato: Doing Nothing on Population is Not an Option

Shirley Stancato: Doing Nothing on Population is Not an Option

January 12, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Growing Michigan’s population starts with embracing Michiganders and delivering dynamic places where they want to live.
  • Infrastructure and walkable communities are a top priority for people across the state.
  • The Growing Michigan Together Council report offers a candid set of shared data and recommendations that can guide key policy changes.

View the session recording below.

Inaction on growing the state’s population is not an option, and it starts with embracing the people who are here, according to two of the key players in developing and then implementing the recommendations of the Growing Michigan Together Council.

“The issues impact us all,” said Council Chair and 2024 Detroit Policy Conference Chair Shirley Stancato. “We put the politics aside and focused on the [population] issue that was our challenge. Everybody understands that doing nothing is not an option; it’s going to take each of us, and all of us, to grow Michigan. The key word is ‘together.’”

The state’s Chief Growth Officer, Hilary Doe, built on those sentiments in a conversation with Stancato and Moderator Lloyd Jackson, Senior News Analyst at WJR NewsTalk 760 AM.

“To grow the state, we need to first wrap our arms around the folks who are here,” said Doe.

She explained that infrastructure issues like transit and creating walkable communities were consistently top of mind for Michiganders engaged by the Council through town halls and focus groups, input that will guide her work as the first chief growth officer in the nation.

“My role, in so many ways, starts now,” said Doe, noting that the task of growing Michigan is going to take statewide partnerships that reach across the aisle and implement policy changes that create places where people want to move to.

She touted the fact that the Council’s report established a shared set of data to work around and “tackle the issue honestly.”

“The data is overwhelming,” said Stancato, who flagged sobering statistics such as 4th-grade reading proficiency rates and dropping K-12 attendance numbers as a key to creating a candid, “pull no punches” report that can result in concrete action.

“My intention is to move some of these recommendations forward this year,” said Doe.

Needed changes would include a closer look at the state’s constitution, according to Stancato, who explained that Michigan needs to update its policies to reflect today’s realities on key issues such as education.

“Our policymakers are going to need to take a deep breath and see what needs to change,” said Stancato.

Read more from Stancato in the Detroiter magazine: “Inaction is Not an Option, Cracks From Population Loss Showing.”