Impact to Date
As Policy Director for the Lt. Governor’s Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, MEC Director Austin provided the arguments leading to Michigan’s high school graduation requirements, 21st Century Jobs Fund, and Michigan Promise Scholarship, and a template for raising state education levels and leveraging higher education -- broadly supported and relevant to this day.
Great Lakes Economic Initiative:
As creator of the Brookings Great Lakes Economic Initiative, MEC Director Austin produced the seminal texts, the Vital Center, the Vital Connection and collaborated with University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre on the Vital Commons, a reports that charted a course for economic transformation in the Great Lakes Region.
Follow-on studies, including the Next Economy: Economic Recovery and Transformation in the Great Lakes Region, Turning Up the Heat: How Venture Capital Can Fuel the Great Lakes Economic Transformation, and Hubs of Innovation: Leveraging the Great Lakes Research Complex for Energy Innovation, showed how the Great Lakes auto-industry-centered region can leverage its strengths, including capitalizing new firms, and centering energy research in the GreatLakes.
MEC’s Austin also helped create first-ever regional collaborations, including the Great Lakes Metro Chambers of Commerce, Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE), and Auto-Region Community Colleges.
MEC Director Austin coined the term Blue Economy, and provided the compelling economic argument for leveraging Michigan and the Great Lakes water assets and water expertise as engines of economic growth in Healthy Waters, Strong Economy. This analysis of the economic impact of clean water led directly to new national funding support for Great Lakes restoration and continues to inspire and support communities around the Great Lakes to organize their own Blue Economy agendas, as in Milwaukee, and Macomb County, Michigan.
Global Detroit and Global Michigan:
As the first Director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, MEC Director Austin initiated the Global Detroit effort to welcome immigrants as a driver of economic renewal, sparking Global Michigan and new leadership and activity in advancing immigrant welcoming efforts.
Metro-Urban Strategy for Michigan:
MEC Director Austin helped Brookings Institution, Public Sector Consultants and Business-Leaders for Michigan provide a framework for Michigan’s metros to lead its economic resurgence in the “Next Economy”.
President, Michigan State Board of Education:
With strong bi-partisan leadership MEC’s Director Austin provides leadership and supervision over all public education, and makes recommendations to the Michigan Governor and Legislature on policy and financing for a winning education system.