Opinion: Gov. Snyder’s legacy of solving tough problems

Doug Rothwell

In 2010, Michigan chose a new governor. Our problems were countless, and clear. Tough issues had gone unanswered – from the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and residents, to deficit spending and unfunded liabilities across the state, to Detroit’s downfall. While the nation went into recession, Michigan went into an economic depression.

Rothwell writes: "We will miss Rick Snyder. A great governor, and a great man."

Gov. Rick Snyder started working on our problems from where Michigan was – at the bottom of the pack on almost every measurable indicator. After eight years of hard work, our unemployment rate has fallen to nearly 20-year lows, outmigration has reversed, the economy is more diverse and Detroit has become one of the most exciting and attractive cities for growth in the U.S.

Every year, Business Leaders for Michigan compiles an annual competitiveness report, to see where we stand in comparison to other states relative to jobs, income growth and a healthy economy. In 2010, we were the second to worst state for corporate taxes. Any employer looking to relocate or expand was never going to consider Michigan their home. Today we are ranked 8th in the nation, resulting in explosive private sector job growth over the past eight years.

Our state is not just producing more jobs, it’s also producing more good-paying jobs in a broader range of industry sectors so that in the case of a future economic downturn, we are much more prepared than we were before. Initiatives like the opening of the American Center for Mobility, the building of the new Gordie Howe International Bridge and a desperately-needed upgrade of the Soo Locks provide a firm foundation for Michigan companies to create more, produce more, sell more and employ more.

But what I personally will remember most about Rick Snyder as governor is the person he truly is. He worries a lot about solving problems and doesn’t worry at all about getting credit. He focuses on the policy, not the politics, even when that’s to his disadvantage. He’s always accessible and doesn’t make impulsive or emotional decisions. Perhaps most important, I know he has always put Michigan first -- even when I disagreed with his decisions.

His style to governing helped reinvent the image of Michigan as much as the economic progress we made under his watch. We went from a state of division to a state of cohesion – a place that exercises a relentless approach of civility, respect and common-sense solutions at a time when our nation became increasingly divisive. Gov. Rick Snyder took on a number of obstacles that many believed insurmountable.

The new foundation he laid will significantly improve the lives of Michiganians for decades to come. It is my hope that his legacy will continue and Michigan remain known as the state that comes together to solve its toughest problems.

We will miss Rick Snyder. A great governor, and a great man.

Doug Rothwell is CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.