By John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center
Canvassing over 3000 representatives from businesses, nonprofits, and governmental organizations on Michigan’s business climate and economic development priorities, the results of the Baker Strategy and CFI Groups-conducted Michigan Economic Outlook Survey provide some key insights into where we are and where we need to go to improve Michigan’s economy.
Based on the 1-100 customer satisfaction scale used to test feedback for a range of products, Michigan communities were given a middling “62” ranking as a “good place to grow a business.” This result put Michigan even with a “mediocre or poor-performing airline like United” in similar rankings, according to panel moderator Tom Walsh, business columnist for the Detroit Free Press.
Of particular note to me in the survey were results to a question sponsored by our Michigan Economic Center at the Prima Civitas Foundation. The question asked, “In order to create conditions that support business and job growth, Michigan must…”
(The following graphic is an excerpt from the Michigan Economic Outlook Survey’s presentation that depicts responses to our question.)
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.
John Austin directs the Michigan Economic Center at the Prima Civitas Foundation and is President of the Michigan State Board of Education.