Michigan’s Economy

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I have come to wonder, particularly since the recent recession,  of  what is lacking or better what needs to be done in Michigan to cushion some of the up and downs of the Auto industry and the inevitable reductions in employment created by ever increasing automation incorporated by large manufacturing corporations.

I have made the following observations:

1)    We have in recent years entered a new economy, one whose core is fundamentally different from its predecessor’s, say the automobile age was from the agricultural era.

2)    The economy is barely chugging along and there is apprehension about employment levels . . .

The reality we have is very troubling, because what is disappearing is not just certain number of jobs or jobs in certain industries, or even jobs in America. What is disappearing is the very thing itself: The Job. The job is becoming a vanishing species an antiquated notion of employment.

3)    Nationally the manufacturing sector is employing an ever decreasing percentage of total labor; currently I believe at 11%.

4)    The civil service, etc employs approximately another 20%.

5)    Unemployment is at 9.1%

6)    Therefore approximately 60% must be working in other sectors of the economy.

Now what do these observations tell me, a non-economist?

1)    High capital investment lower employment sector as in large corporations and;

2)    An employment creating entrepreneurial driver sector that draws on the brain power, venture capital and entrepreneurial skills of people in a region.

Where does Michigan stand on these? Hmmm…..

On large companies—I guess we’ve got those, on the first vector we are OK. However employment growth is unlikely to come from these corporations.

How about the second?

Great opportunities, U of M, MSU, Wayne State, Grand Valley, Michigan Tech, etc….

 Annual Dollars for Research over $1.5 billion

These universities generate a vast array of knowledge a good part of which I’m sure can be commercialized, but are not doing as fast as they could if the needed culture is established within these academic institutions.

Venture Capital: still a dismal situation–small amounts compared to other states

Skills/Entrepreneurs

Limited: principally, because the atmosphere is not conductive to creating new enterprises.

What should we do?

The Governor should take the initiative to form a Task Force made of University-State-Private Sector Individuals to;

1)    Review Michigan’s strengths and weaknesses;

2)    Core competencies;

3)    Formulate a State wide economic strategy;

4)    Begin to implement;

5)    The Universities should review their policies on commercializing their R&RD results and establish procedures that make such intellectual property easier to access to the benefit of the Universities and the community.

6)    Re- establishment of the Technology Institutes to be the converter / conveyer means of University research to usable technology for commercialization by small and large corporations and start ups. The strategy of / for ITI’s was to “triangulate” the private sector, the university research results with private and State funding. The State funding were to stop after a defined period by which time the ITI’s were to operate on funds for projects funded by the private sector only.

In conclusion

We need to develop the culture and infrastructure that is conductive to economic development through the formation and success of entrepreneurial enterprises.

To begin to accomplish this we must involve the Universities, the Private sector and a depoliticized State Participation.

We must begin now. We are not the only ones that realize the need. Actually we are behind many other states.

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