Column: Let's leverage Michigan's reset moment
As we head north for the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference, we can celebrate that Michigan is in a substantially better place compared to five years ago. Our state has added nearly 400,000 private sector jobs during this period, ranks second in the country in improved economic health, and we have leaped into the top 10 nationally in improved corporate tax climate and in entrepreneurial climate, as reported by Gov. Rick Snyder. These trends, and Detroit's heroic exit from bankruptcy, provide our entire state a reset moment.
The dialogue at the Mackinac Policy Conference will focus on how we best leverage this moment in our history and take full advantage of the strong leadership we enjoy from corporate, community and government circles.
The conference will explore the catalyst that can ignite geometric and sustainable economic growth with deep dives into three important growth drivers: talent, urban revitalization and cohesion, the need to speak with one Michigan voice. The Detroit Regional Chamber is proud to bring more than a dozen national voices and the state's executives and elected officials to Michigan's center stage to challenge over 1,500 of the state's most influential leaders to engage in this exploration.
Attracting and cultivating talent is going to require continued development of public-private partnerships to assure we are developing the talent in our state to fill the open jobs today and prepare our citizens for the jobs of tomorrow. Speakers, like Mike Rowe, host of the "Dirty Jobs" TV show, will share insights on the importance of investing in the development of skilled trades as a strategy to fill our open jobs, while renowned inventor Dean Kamen will inspire us on how to motivate students to chart a course for careers in the high-tech engineering and robotics fields.
Revitalizing our cities will require new approaches to fostering business growth, financial stability, infrastructure improvements and place-making. Financial expert Mellody Hobson, author Dan Senor and Operation HOPE's John Hope Bryant will provide insight on key issues such as financial literacy and unlocking the entrepreneurial power in our cities. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and architects of the "grand bargain" will speak to ensuring Detroit's prosperity going forward.
Moving Michigan forward with greater cohesion will require business, government and other community leaders to build one Michigan voice on a foundation of shared values. Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin will speak to history's lessons on effective leadership and statistician Nate Silver offers a lens into trends that all decision-makers need to embrace. Whole Foods' Walter Robb will provide an example of business as positive change agents deploying so called conscious capitalism.
On the final day of the conference we'll focus on two issues dominating our headlines. First, we'll discuss our state's roads and infrastructure, targeting solutions given the Prop 1 defeat. Next, we will tackle the hard realities we see playing out in cities across our country, from Ferguson to Baltimore, understanding the similarities and differences between those communities and ours.
On Mackinac Island, we look forward to an engaging dialogue and shared learning that will inspire our state's leaders, and Michigan as a whole, to celebrate our common goals while closing the gaps on our differences, all in the name of a continued, lasting progress.
Mark Davidoff is Michigan managing partner for Deloitte LLP and chair of the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference. Sandy Baruah is CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.