The head of Business Leaders for Michigan said the state can create up to half a million new jobs in the next decade if it makes targeted investments in higher education, transportation infrastructure, and agriculture. Douglas Rothwell made the comments during a presentation Wednesday morning at Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business. Business Leaders for Michigan is an organization of the chief executives of some of Michigan’s largest businesses, including Steelcase, Meijer, Bissell, Gordon Food, Amway, Perrigo, and Herman Miller.
Rothwell discussed BLM’s “Michigan Turnaround Plan” which calls on state and local governments to improve their efficiency and be more consistent in how they deal with taxes, zoning and other services important to business expansion. Rothwell has asked the Michigan Legislature to re-invest in higher education, which he said presently accounts for up to 14 percent of Michigan’s gross domestic product.
“We should again become a top 10 state in our support of higher education,” Rothwell said, in urging the state legislature to use high-quality performance measures as the basis for additional funding. “If we don’t do this, I’m worried that in-state tuition for Michigan residents may become more expensive than out-of-state tuition in neighboring states. This risks driving our best educated citizens away.” Rothwell urged Michigan’s universities to admit additional out-of-state students without restricting enrollment from in-state students, saying that graduates of Michigan’s institutions often stay in the state as they begin their careers.
Rothwell pointed out that Michigan’s history of high-quality engineering, coupled with an expansion of the agricultural sector and investments in transportation infrastructure, can position Michigan as a gateway to the global economy. “With targeted investments, we can create up to 500,000 new Michigan jobs in the next decade,” he said.
Rothwell spoke to an audience of 250 attending the Huntington Bank Lecture Series of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. The event took place in the university’s Loosemore Auditorium on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.