Michigan leaders weigh in on what our state should do to attract jobs (hint: it ain’t “lower taxes & bust unions”)

Wait, I thought Gov. Snyder was a businessman…

A recent study by the Michigan Economic Center asked over 3000 representatives from businesses, nonprofits, and governmental organizations what things Michigan needs to do to attract more business investment in our state. If you listen to Michigan Republicans, including our governor, their answer is “lower taxes and bust unions”.

They might wish to ask the people who actually DO business in this state what they think. “Lower taxes” and “bust unions” aren’t even close to the top.

Here are the things they found most important:

  • Attract and retain top talent
  • Ensure our water is clean and Great Lakes protected
  • Improve education and higher education attainment
  • Fix our road, bridges and vital infrastructure
  • Revitalize our major cities like Detroit
  • Improve public safety in our core cities
  • Better fund vital services (public safety, fire, transportation)
  • Protect and rebuild our parks and outdoor recreation infrastructure

It’s almost as if Michigan Republicans saw this list and did the exact opposite over the past two years.

They also polled 1,000 Michigan residents and asked them their thoughts on what our state should do. Have a look at this chart:


[Chart by Michigan Economic Center]

Those surveyed noted that attracting and keeping talent, being good stewards of our Great Lakes and clean water, improving education, and fixing our infrastructure, as well as a number of other public good investment priorities, were imperative for supporting business and job growth.

This feedback from Michigan’s business, nonprofit, and governmental communities mirrors the results that we are learning through our Michigan “Dream Restored” Initiative. In a recent 1000 person survey conducted by EPIC-MRA for the Michigan Economic Center (to be released soon), Michigan citizens said the most important thing government can do for job creation is not cutting taxes, but by providing quality education, good roads, and good services like public safety, parks, and libraries. Investment in these public goods will create an environment where people want to live, work, and run a business. {…}

Traditional business climate issues like low-tax rates may be less important to businesses and average citizens than the public goods we provide together — with our taxes — that create conditions needed for business growth.

Let’s hope that the new year brings with it more investment in our state and less emphasis on hamstringing our state and local communities by emptying their coffers and making it harder for them to provide the services and investments that are so important to revitalizing our economy. The evidence seems clear: make Michigan a desirable place to live and businesses will beat a path to our door. They’re even willing to hire some union members and pay some taxes for the opportunity.

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  • Underfire

    This is not news to us. Until the GOP in Michigan, puts the true needs of Michigan’s job market before their own self serving agenda, we will never reach an economic recovery. They (GOP) are hell bent on the destruction of the middle class and seem to have no regard for common sense when it comes to taxes. As a practical matter, if you plan to maintain your home, it takes “money”. We work to earn money to maintain our homes and cars, send kids to college etc. States don’t “work” however, they still need to maintain our state. That is what taxes are for. I’m happy to pay taxes for police to come to my home when there is trouble. I want a fireman to bring his fellow firefighters to my house if it catches fire. I want good roads to drive on. I want good schools with good teachers to teach my kids. I want libraries, parks, sidewalks and so on. You and I know that in order to care for the common good, it costs money. Perhaps we need to think whether or not our legislature is worth paying for with our taxes. I myself would rather spend the money on sidewalks.

    • la58

      Which brings up something I will keep harping about, get rid of term limits. We need people working for us, not wondering how they are going suck up to the biggest donors. If they know that they are going to be there for a while, they might just look out for everyone.

      • underfire

        Let’s not forget the extravagant benefit package our legislators receive after serving their two terms. Eliminating term limits will save the state plenty of dollars in retirement benefits for these legislators. We tried term limits……..they don’t work.

  • Hoopster

    Seriously? Making sure the water is clean is going to cause companies to increase their hiring? You think the auto companies, for examples, wake up and say hey, the water is so clean I’m going to go out and expand my factory production!

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Seriously? You don’t think that companies want to set up shop where the water is clean? And that’s the only thing you got out of that data?
      Don’t be obtuse. It makes you look bad.

      • Hoopster

        I’m not being obtuse – I just want to meet a company that says “hey – the water is clean so let’s set up shop here”. That sounds pretty obtuse. It makes you look bad.

        • Wilson Valdez III

          And you’re still being obtuse, by taking ONE ASPECT of a survey on what businesses value as important and putting it in a vacuum.

          That doesn’t just make you look bad; it makes you look simple and irrational.

  • Anonymous

    The MEC survey didn’t even have tax cuts as an option!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lochberg Lynn Ochberg

    I wasn’t asked, but I would have answered just exactly like the survey reported if I had been asked. I brought my business to Michigan because it was a great place to live…..35 years ago. The GOP is ruining it as fast as they can, it seems.

  • KarenJ

    Bring back Jennifer Granholm. At least she wasn’t a dictatorial totalitarian stripping rights from everyone except cronies and fanatics.

  • http://twitter.com/dkmich dkmich

    Snyder hates government. He thinks government and the people who work in it are bureaucratic, inflexible, stupid, and to be ignored. He has no regard for anybody or anything but his own self-centered and narrow minded point of view. If something isn’t working, it isn’t because his administration is incompetent, it is because government sucks. He thinks SPARK is a model for Michigan’s job training program when it isn’t. He thinks public school teachers suck, and CEOs know it all. I have never seen a more arrogant and ignorant administration than his. I can’t wait for Michigan to kick his whiny voice and stupid ass to the curb.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bakerstrategy David A. Baker

    My firm actually conducted this survey, the first annual Michigan 2013 Economic Outlook Survey. Actually, this article is not completely correct. The list of 8 “imperatives” is from the MEC itself. Of the 8, “attract and retain top talent” was clearly important for all three sectors (business, nonprofit, and public). However, we also found that all three sectors agree that the cost of healthcare is the single largest challenge that businesses in Michigan face. So, in order to make Michigan a great place to grow a business, the key focus for all of us is to find ways for public/private collaborate to reduce healthcare costs for businesses.

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