Opinion: Creating opportunity in our state
In April, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) proudly recognized 20 years of creating economic opportunity here in Michigan. Many of the MEDC’s achievements — and in turn, those of the state — over the past two decades have resulted from adjusting to economic trends and listening to our local partners to implement the tools and services needed to grow business, create jobs and build vibrant communities throughout Michigan.
By continuing to keep our thumb on the pulse of the market, we have recently introduced new or expanded economic development and business attraction tools to meet the needs of businesses and communities throughout the state.
Take the critical issue of talent, for example. At the MEDC, we work with businesses every day that are considering investing or expanding in Michigan, and the question of talent, and how companies can access it, is a constant point of discussion. According to the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children entering primary school today will work in positions that currently do not exist. To adapt to changing industry demands — and meet the governor’s goal of 60 percent of Michiganians having a post-secondary credential by 2030 — our workforce must have the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future.
Our Jobs Ready Michigan Program will meet this need and enhance our business attraction efforts by offering companies we seek to attract to Michigan a nimbler solution for training workers. By directly addressing the workforce needs of companies looking to Michigan to expand, this attraction tool will provide awards to offset the costs associated with recruiting talent and training employees in high-wage or high-tech industries. This innovative program comes on the heels of our recently announced Site Readiness initiative to get available properties closer to “shovel ready” status.
Often, site selectors and businesses prefer sites that are ready for construction to begin on Day One. Our Site Readiness program enhances Michigan’s inventory of available properties, making it easier for businesses and communities throughout the state to partner with the MEDC on economic development projects.
The MEDC also remains committed to ensuring all communities in Michigan have access to the support we offer, regardless of their size. To increase access to resources for growth and development, we have expanded the scope of our flagship Michigan Community Revitalization Program and Michigan Business Development Program (MBDP) to provide greater opportunities for businesses and communities to thrive.
These expansions include lowering the barrier of entry for communities to qualify for up to 50 percent of their project costs to communities of fewer than 15,000 people through our Community Revitalization Program. And by creating additional opportunities for economic assistance through the Michigan Business Development Program, we have added the Micro MBDP to provide grants to promote business growth in geographically disadvantaged areas or target industries that may create fewer jobs, but still contribute a significant economic impact to local communities and sectors.
Economic development is a team sport. And by working with our partners to respond to market trends and broaden our efforts to promote a diversity of economic impact throughout the state, we are strategically building on our 20 years of success to ensure Michigan remains an innovative leader in creating economic opportunity for all.
Jeff Mason is CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.