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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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Entries in Economy (11)


Accelerating Job Growth via Investments in Higher Ed

How do we keep our recent job growth success going?  One way is by giving more kids a chance to earn technical or college degrees.  All the data says we'll need more workers with an education beyond high school in the years ahead and that they will make and work more over their careers than those with just a high school degree.

But in Michigan, we've made it harder for kids to get the education they need.  We went from being a Top Ten to a Bottom Ten state for college affordability over the past decade due to a dramatic decline in state support.  The result was a cost shift to students and parents at a time when they could least afford it. 

The state began modestly reinvesting in college education the past two years.  This year, Governor Snyder proposed a 6% increase that would keep tuition at or below the rate of inflation.  BLM strongly supports the Governor's proposal and urges you to call your legislator and ask them to do the same.  Nothing could better help us fill the jobs of the future.

 Richardville Support for Higher Ed 03.18.14


Business Leaders Forecast: MI and U.S. Economies Expected to Grow in Short and Long Term

he state’s largest employers add jobs and invest in Michigan in 2013

DETROIT, Mich., February 18, 2013 – Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), the state’s business roundtable, expects the Michigan and U.S. economies to both grow in the next 6 and 18 months and expects Michigan’s economy to continue to grow faster than the U.S. economy.

“The state’s largest job providers continue to believe Michigan will out-perform the national economy over the next year and a half,” said Doug Rothwell, President & CEO.  “Optimism about the economy rose sharply in the last quarter due partly to the resolution of federal budget and debt ceiling negotiations and strong year-end financial reports from major Michigan employers.” 

Highlights of the survey of Business Leaders for Michigan include:

  • Sixty four percent of business leaders believe Michigan’s economy will grow and none believe it will get worse while only 51% forecast the U.S. economy will grow the next six months.  

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Michigan's University Research Corridor Makes Strong Showing among Eight Leading U.S. Research Clusters


LANSING, Mich. (Jan. 21, 2014) – Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) ranks high among eight university innovation clusters in a new measure that examines R&D spending, research commercialization and talent production, according to a new Economic Impact Report released today.

The URC – consisting of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University – ranked second in the Innovation Power Ranking when compared to seven other major university research clusters in six states, including well-known hubs such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, California’s Innovation Hubs and Massachusetts’ Route 128 Corridor.

The report, prepared by East Lansing, Mich.-based Anderson Economic Group (AEG), showed that the URC universities conferred 32,483 graduate and undergraduate degrees in 2012, more than any of the university innovation clusters the URC has benchmarked itself against since 2007. The URC also granted the highest number of medical degrees and second-highest number of high-demand degrees overall, saw its research and development spending rise to nearly $2.1 billion and continued to commercialize its research through patents and start-up companies.

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Aggressively Working to Retain MI's Role as an Auto Leader

Today’s world is moving faster than ever before. Ideas, information, money, people…we’ve seen tremendous acceleration in just the last few decades, and there’s a lot more on the horizon.

Here in Michigan, this isn’t just an abstract concept.  As the birthplace of the world’s automotive industry, our state helped make personal mobility possible for millions of people. One thing’s for sure: the future of mobility is unlike anything our grandfathers imagined a century ago. Today’s cars are light, computerized, and operating on alternative fuel sources. New ideas and technologies are being tested and deployed every day, to broaden the notion of what it means to transport people and goods worldwide. Michigan is now engaged in a race to retain its leadership role in the automotive industry as the industry continues to transition to an increasingly advanced technology-based sector. We must position ourselves to win.

BLM recently released a plan to help Michigan capitalize on emerging trends and lead the future of mobility. It was developed in partnership with McKinsey & Company, the Center for Automotive Research and other industry leaders throughout 2013 and reflects the latest data and most promising new trends.

Our plan is about more than moving people—it’s about moving the state of Michigan toward greater economic prosperity, job creation, and growth. It is important to remember that the automotive industry has the highest jobs multipliers of any sector of the Michigan economy. If we seize the opportunities that are on the horizon today, we can create more than 100,000 new jobs and ensure Michigan remains a player in the global mobility economy that is unfolding before our very eyes.  If we fail to act, then we risk standing on the sidelines while Germany, Japan, and Silicon Valley reap the benefits of changing mobility technologies.

Michigan has the tools to lead the future of global mobility. Michigan is home to 70 percent of all U.S. automotive R&D expenditures, and 13 percent of global R&D spending. Coupled with the state’s top ranking as home to engineers, and high concentration of smart and connected test beds and pilot deployments, Michigan is the only region in the world with the ability to compete fully in all aspects of mobility development.

However, Michigan is behind the pack when it comes to talent development and venture capital funding, and this puts our industry leadership in jeopardy.  For example, 1,200 powertrain graduates are being produced in Bavaria each year, more than double the number being developed in Michigan. Our venture capital investments in sector total $140 million, just a fraction of the $6 billion being invested elsewhere.

We must address these challenges—and quickly—if we are to seize the opportunity for continued global prominence in the mobility sector. 

Here’s how Michigan can move forward:

  •  Establish state-level leadership to advocate for growth in the automotive and mobility industries. Inter-agency partnerships, coupled with private-sector mobility leadership groups and executive leadership, will help ensure full implementation of the strategic plan for mobility.
  • Create a marketing & branding initiative to support Michigan’s strengths and aspirations in the automotive and mobility industries.
  • Attract and create high-stature advanced mobility conferences and events, anchored by economic development and B2B opportunities for attendees.
  • Support the pipeline of new employees into Michigan’s mobility industry by designing and offering education programs for universities and trade schools that deliver skill sets for future roles.  Michigan must also support strong programs with adequate financial and/or tax incentives.
  • Develop a focused collaboration, research, and testing initiative, and work to attract mobility research centers.  Moreover, we should explore competitive financial support models to attract critical future R&D investments in light of a global competitive context.
  • Support the development of additional sources of financial capital, including venture capital, private investment, and innovative business arrangements to attract new funds.

Each of these actions is important, and Michigan needs to quickly move forward with work we know is needed, and advance our strongest ideas and strategies forward very aggressively.  If we wait, we risk the future of our state as our global competitors take the lead.

The appointment of Nigel Francis as automotive advisor to Governor Rick Snyder is a positive step in the right direction. Francis will be an important part of a committee dedicated to implementing the strategies outlined above. The committee, which already includes top industry leaders and analysts, will begin its work soon after the Governor announces his vision for the mobility industry early next year.

While Michigan already is the automotive leader, we need to take actions now to ensure that Michigan is the leader of the emerging mobility industry. No place has a greater concentration of the auto industry, but Michigan must have a sharper focus and build greater public-private collaboration to ensure continued leadership as the industry evolves.




Most of state’s largest job providers add jobs in 2012; Plan more hiring in 2013

DETROIT, Mich., February 5, 2013Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), the state’s business roundtable, continues to forecast that Michigan’s economy will grow more than the U.S. economy over the next six to eighteen months.  The forecast is reinforced by 60 percent of BLM members planning to increase hiring in Michigan in just the next six months.  Nearly-two thirds added jobs in Michigan last year.    

“The avoidance of the fiscal cliff and slow, but steady domestic growth has boosted the overall economic outlook of Michigan’s largest job providers.  But they remain far more optimistic about Michigan vs. the nation’s economy by the largest margins we have seen since we started conducting these surveys in 2009,” said Doug Rothwell, President & CEO.  “The optimism of the state’s largest job providers for Michigan is based on progress made stabilizing the state’s finances, addressing long-term debt and structural budget deficits and improving the costs of doing business here.  These are the same issues they feel are not being addressed in Washington and are holding the national economy back from full recovery.  They demonstrated that optimism by adding jobs in Michigan last year and planning more this year.  Michigan is not an island and will be affected by slower national growth, but BLM members continue to believe we will out-perform the American economy over the next eighteen months.”

Download the full press release