“It’s about innovation. How do we innovate? How do we leapfrog the competition?” asked Mike Finney on December 1st at an event at The Collaborative Group. With other states doing exactly what Michigan was doing to attract business and economic development, Mike recognized the need for a change. After years working in innovative environments like Ann Arbor Spark!, he joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) when Governor Rick Snyder took office in January of 2011.
Mike took a new approach to business development – giving businesses the attention they need by providing services, not just money, and treating investments like investors by providing access to capital, talent, and customers. Today, governments across the nation are looking to Michigan to hear what we’re doing and why… A new spin for our state.
Mike said building an entrepreneurial ecosystem is a must. Looking 20-30-40-years out and “not creating jobs for today, but for our future” is essential. Mike expressed the highest priority as talent retention and attraction saying, “We’ll become a retiree state [unless] we figure out how to keep our young talent.” Launched earlier this year, the MEDC’s LiveWorkDetroit! program introduces young people to Michigan’s urban core, focusing on job opportunities and lifestyle.
But, who will create the jobs? According to Mike, immigrants are responsible for 33% of entrepreneurial activity in Michigan. Together with the Governor, Mike wants to send a message that Michigan is immigrant-friendly (see the article below for more details on this initiative). There are also numerous programs in the works with the MEDC, including a social entrepreneurship initiative set to create over 1,200 jobs in the state in 2012 and another program called Shifting Gears which targets individuals over 40-years old who were displaced in the recession and are looking to re-enter the workforce. “Michigan is number two right now in the country for economic growth. We’re leading the country out of the recession and doing things that matter, without asking permission.”