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Growing The New Michigan


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Business Leaders for Michigan is an organization dedicated to making Michigan a "Top Ten" state for jobs, personal income and a healthy economy. Serving as the state's business roundtable, Business Leaders for Michigan is composed of the chairpersons, chief executives or most senior executives of the state’s largest job providers and universities. Read more...

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Building a Gateway to the Midwest

One of our best opportunities to build a New Michigan economy is to leverage our unique geographic location, particularly our proximity to Canada, and underutilized logistics infrastructure to transform Michigan into a "Gateway to the Midwest."  In the past year, significant progress has been made toward achieving this goal:

  • The State released a strategic plan to guide the overall initiative. 
  • A Presidential permit was granted approving construction of the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor.
  • The Michigan Economic Development Corporation awarded funds to the state's Next Michigan Development Zones to promote their intermodal freight hubs.
  • The Detroit Region Aerotropolis Development Corporation, now titled VantagePort, hired its first CEO and is fully operational.  VantagePort's new CEO, Tim Keyes, is a long-time economic developer familiar with the area who was able to hit the ground running.  
  • And, hot off the press this week, a high tech development was announced for the former Willow Run Powertrain Plant in Ypsilanti Township which is within the VantagePort boundaries. The proposal redevelops the property into a shared research and development center as well as test track for connected vehicles.  This first-of-its-kind facility would serve automakers, suppliers and related technology companies.  

Business Leaders for Michigan has been engaged in many of these activities and we look forward to working with our partners to continue to build successes for Michigan.  


Business Leaders for Michigan supports call for greater regional planning to spur economic development

DETROIT Mich., August 8, 2013 — Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), the state’s business roundtable, today applauded the roll-out of the Regional Prosperity Initiative, a program that promotes the efficient use of tax dollars by incentivizing private and public entities to deliver services on a regional basis.

“Adopting a regional approach to delivering services at the local level is a key objective of the Michigan Turnaround Plan, “ said Doug Rothwell, President and CEO. “Many communities and agencies want to work together as this allows them to deliver services more efficiently and effectively - but boundaries get in the way. While the state’s leaders have done a great deal over the last few years to stabilize Michigan’s financial standing and remove statutory barriers to greater local government service sharing, the logical next step in the process is to incentivize all agencies in a given region to think more strategically and collaboratively about delivery of public services.”

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Business Leaders Forecast: MI will continue to grow faster than U.S. over next 18 months

Over half of state’s largest employers will be adding jobs in Michigan

 DETROIT, Mich., August 1, 2013 – Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), the state’s business roundtable, continues to forecast that Michigan’s economy will grow faster than the U.S. economy over the next six to eighteen months.  The forecast is reinforced by 52 percent of BLM members planning to increase hiring in Michigan in just the next six months. 

“Michigan’s business leaders continue believe Michigan will out-perform the national economy over the next year and a half,” said Doug Rothwell, President & CEO. “The outlook has moderated as the global economy has slowed over the past six months, but the state’s top business executives continue to show confidence in Michigan as over half plan to increase hiring in the next six months.”

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Detroit looks to a new beginning, not an ending

Sometimes the right choices are the hardest ones.

Detroit’s bankruptcy is a defining moment in the life of a great city. While no one can say for certain what lies ahead, there’s more reason to believe this is the start of a new beginning, not a final chapter with a sad ending.  Bankruptcy gives City government the opportunity to restructure its finances so it can deliver better police, sanitation and transit services.  One can only imagine how much additional growth Detroit could experience if it was safer, cleaner and more effective given the unprecedented level of private investment, foundation support and influx of young professionals occurring today.  

The Governor said it best when he called on all of us to look at bankruptcy not as an end, but the beginning of improving the lives of the 700,000 people living in Detroit and those who come to work there every day. 

No one can be surprised bankruptcy happened. Business Leaders for Michigan’s predecessor, Detroit Renaissance, funded the completion of restructuring plans for nearly every Administration over the past thirty years.  Each one identified a looming crisis and outlined steps that would save money and improve services.  But few of the recommendations were fully implemented and many were ignored. 

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OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Detroit Region Aerotropolis Development Corporation Announces CEO, New Name & Marketing Plan

Taylor, Mich., July 18, 2013 — The Detroit Region Aerotropolis Development Corporation (ADC) today announced it has hired a CEO, has completed a strategic marketing and organizational plan, and is rebranding itself as VantagePort.

Verna McDaniel, Washtenaw County Administrator and Interim ADC Chair, said “It took us longer than we had hoped but we’re pleased to have a highly qualified CEO dedicated to leading our efforts. We conducted a public search, received over 60 applications and after a complete review, we are confident that Tim Keyes is the best candidate to accomplish what we want done.  Tim is very familiar with the Aerotropolis as he has been engaged to some degree with our work from the beginning, which will enable him to jumpstart the initiative and re-energize our efforts.”

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