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Viewpoints Blog

Michigan Business BlogKeep abreast of current issues affecting Michigan’s competitiveness, both nationally and around the globe, and learn what the private sector is doing to stimulate and grow our economy.

You can also learn more about Business Leaders for Michigan’s (BLM) latest initiatives and find out how you can help make Michigan a "Top Ten" state once again.


New Year, New Goals, New Michigan

New Year, New Goals, New Michigan

Michigan's turnaround to date has been the result of a lot of hard work by businesses and people across our state. It's also been facilitated by state tax, fiscal and regulatory changes that created a better business climate.  But there's a stark difference between turning the state around and being a Top Ten state - especially when being Top Ten could mean up to 120,000 more jobs and higher incomes for every Michigander.

That's why we can't let our recent success allow us to become complacent.  We need better tools to attract business.  More educated and skilled workers.  A laser-like focus to ensure MI maintains its signature automotive industry as it becomes increasingly based on technologies developed across the globe.  

If we want to attract more jobs and businesses, MI needs better tools to compete.  We have a good business climate, but so do most of the states we compete against and they offer more incentives to locate there.  That needs to change.

It will take the state getting more serious about making the investments needed to make a college and university education in our state affordable.

Finally, it will take a recognition that while recent tax and fiscal reforms stabilized our finances, we still have more than 1,800 units of government, too little service sharing across these entities and too much debt that could sidetrack our future growth. In fact, we still routinely pass legislation without knowing its potential future costs. 

As we enter a new year, we should be proud of our recent progress.  But looking forward, we should be mindful that our work is far from over.   Let's work together to build a New Michigan.



Consistency Will Build a New Michigan

Ask any business leader what they value most in a location and they'll tell you a healthy business climate is key.  And they're right. Thriving communities, a talented workforce, favorable tax and regulatory environments and strong infrastructure do matter-a lot.
But there's more to the story. If the business climate is cyclical or prone to change, it becomes very difficult for a business to make any lasting headway. Therefore, smart business leaders will add a caveat to their answer, telling you they want a consistently healthy business climate. 
Businesses typically make investments that take years to recoup. Economic, political or structural volatility prevents companies from delivering predictable results for shareholders and investors.   While MI has made great progress the past five years rebuilding our economy, there are warning signs that we're forgetting this first axiom of business success.
Consider this: we've cut support for business development just as the economy is recovering. Policymakers are talking about slashing or even eliminating the state's economic development programs. There is also talk about trying to double the corporate income tax.  While no state is perfect, these recent developments bring back memories of MI's habit of changing economic policies with every election cycle. The best performing states, our competitors, realize they need to consistently improve their business costs and maintain strong economic development programs.  They are, in a word, consistent.
MI has recovered from being the worst performing state in the U.S., and is now nearly back to the national average on most metrics.  Five years of consistent policy and accomplishments have helped make this happen. We now have a shot at becoming a Top Ten state.  Let's build on the foundation that we've worked so hard to put in place and say no to policies that will erode it.



Michigan's auto industry: a sure bet

"A sure bet."  We've all heard that line before.  But when it comes to Michigan, the auto industry remains the surest bet we can make.  Our largest industry has not only led Michigan's comeback, it also has the ability to produce tens of thousands of new, high-paying jobs if we play our cards right.  

Doug Rothwell

Technology is transforming automobiles into mobile devices that allow us to work, get informed and be entertained while we safely transport ourselves.  Michigan has an unique opportunity to diversify and grow our economy by attracting businesses that are fueling this transformation and have never considered locating here before. You may remember that BLM identified this opportunity to become the "Global Center of Mobility" in its New Michigan growth strategy.

The good news is that Michigan took a big step toward realizing its future automotive opportunities with the opening of Mcity on the University of Michigan's North Campus.  Mcity is the world's first full-service research facility specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies.  BLM is now working with a team of partners to develop additional testing centers, attract federal research, convene mobility conferences and expand education programs. 

And this is only the beginning. Michigan is ready to rev the engines of its auto sector and continue its industry leadership.  It is the surest bet that we can make for the people of our state.


Letter to Michigan Legislative leaders about road funding plans 


To:  Michigan Media

From: Kelly Chesney, BLM VP of Marketing and Communications

Date: July 14, 2015

Re: Letter to Michigan Legislative leaders about road funding plans

Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), the state’s business roundtable, delivered the attached letter to the leaders of the Michigan House and Senate outlining our stance on the road funding proposals passed by the Legislature.

Both the House and Senate plans rely on redirecting at least $700 million of income tax revenue from the General Fund to transportation. Permanently shifting such significant General Fund revenue to roads will no doubt have a negative impact in other areas that are critical to Michigan's growth - areas like job training and higher education - that are essential to developing the talent Michigan employers need to compete. 

As the voice of many of Michigan’s largest job providers, we ask that our legislators to act swiftly and cohesively to address the long-term funding demands of our transportation system while protecting the critical services our residents rely on and the important programs which bring good-paying jobs to our state.  

Click here to download the letter 


Let's Fund Roads the Right Way

We've been here before. Last year, our state leaders couldn't agree on how to fix our roads, so they crafted Proposal 1 and asked the voters to decide. We all know how that turned out. Now, we have a second chance. The House and Senate have again passed different plans for fixing our roads. This time we can't afford to fail.
But it's critical as our leaders work toward a common plan that they not fix one problem by creating others. Both plans rely on redirecting at least $700 million of income tax revenue from the General Fund to transportation - that's about 7% of the current General Fund budget. Permanently shifting that much General Fund revenue to roads will no doubt have a negative impact in other areas that are critical to Michigan's growth - areas like job training and higher education - areas that are critical to developing the talent Michigan employers need to compete.
BLM's position: Our polling shows that voters are ready to support a simple, dedicated road funding stream, built to go the distance and backed by common sense. We encourage the Legislature to find a solution that fixes our roads the right way with a long-term solution that generates enough money to fix them every year and doesn't shortchange other key priorities.