A report released today by Business Leaders for Michigan presented a strategy to encourage growth in the state’s metropolitan areas and detailed how federal and state investment could accelerate that growth.
Among the recommendations of the report, prepared by Public Sector Consultants Inc.:
• Increasing investment in “manufacturing-innovation infrastructure.” The state’s 21st Century Jobs Fundcould be reoriented to bring funding for programs that, for example, would expand research collaborations between large manufacturers and universities, train manufacturers or support small manufacturers.
• Using targeted, competitive grants to support “cluster” growth strategies — concentrating on sectors such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing and alternative energy.
• Using job-training program dollars to support growth clusters. That would involve asking for changes to federal job training allocations.
• Helping highly educated immigrants gain professional certifications in the state. Immigrants founded about 16 percent of all businesses in Michigan from 1996 to 2007, a statistic that includes one-third of all technology companies. A number of barriers to entry exist for professional certification programs even for qualified immigrants, the report found.
Metropolitan areas also must have the funds and ability to create a safe, secure, functional environment — but those are basic requirements, not the tools that will encourage growth.
Nancy Kaffer, Crain’s Detroit