Michigan residents understand vital role of entrepreneurs
June 21, 2012
Almost nine in 10 Michigan residents view entrepreneurship as a critical piece of the state’s economic future, and most believe children should be learning about it as a career option by middle school, a statewide poll released today say.
Some 88 percent of those polled agree that entrepreneurship is essential or very important for the state’s economic well-being. That includes strong support among Republicans and Democrats, men and women, young and old, and residents in every region of the state.
The poll was commissioned by the Michigan Sense of Place Council, a public-private collaborative that supports development of communities with a quality of life where people want to work, live, and operate businesses.
“Our poll shows that after a decade of economic turmoil, Michigan residents see that our future is in our own hands. They understand that workers can no longer count on someone else to sign their paycheck. They see entrepreneurship as a legitimate career path,” said Rob Fowler, CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan and chair of the Council’s entrepreneurship committee.
The poll is the first in a series aimed at gauging the degree to which Michigan residents embrace an entrepreneurial culture. Fowler said the support is probably much higher than a decade ago, when many residents were trying to hold on to good-paying factory jobs that supported middle-class lifestyles.
Key findings of the poll include:
• Some 92 percent of residents believe that educational institutions should teach entrepreneurial and small business skills. Fifty-eight percent said the education should begin at least by middle school or junior high school. Eighty-five percent agree that young people should consider launching their own businesses as a legitimate career alternative to working for someone else. Nearly as many, 82 percent, said they would advise their own children to start their own venture.
• More than four in five residents (82 percent) believe that locally owned businesses contribute more to the overall welfare of a community than national or international businesses.
• A slight majority (51 percent) disagree with the idea that people who work for large corporations have less risk of losing their livelihood than those who own their own businesses or work in small businesses.
• Residents were less confident in the retirement security of small business owners compared with those who work for large companies. Forty-two percent said the small business owners were less likely to be secure in retirement, compared with 18 percent who said they were likely to be more comfortable.
The poll of 600 likely voters was conducted by the EPIC-MRA polling firm between June 1 and June 5. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The Sense of Place Council has been a leader in promoting efforts to build communities that encourage and support entrepreneurial activities as a means of attracting talented workers and entrepreneurs who can successfully compete in the global marketplace.
A recent survey by the Council found that entrepreneurial opportunities have expanded dramatically on public university campuses across the state. K-12 schools have a similar responsibility, said Fowler. “Our universities are now engaged in trying to change the culture and helping students understand that starting their own company is an option. It’s clear that the K-12 schools have a critical role as well and need to weave entrepreneurship into the fabric of our children’s education.”
Entrepreneurship has received increased focus as a strategy for building a strong economy in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder has emphasized it since taking office in 2011, and it was the topic of a forum for the state’s movers and shakers at the recent Mackinac Policy Conference sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.