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Three Big Reasons to be Optimistic About the Future of Michigan

September 15, 2011

In a recent interview I was asked what are you excited about? I said “Michigan’s future.” The interviewee was surprised, which bothered me. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic about Michigan. Optimism begins with you, the small business owner: your success and attitude. By now you’re really strong. New leadership in Lansing is showing to be more supportive and in alignment with your roles as key job creators. Michigan and the Midwest are attracting the attention of the coasts. It’s no longer just a fly-over country. There’s a re-birth of Michigan underway. As for the world, well, it’s growing. There are now 7 billion of us. It’s time for a new attitude of thinking globally. We have a growing population in a smaller world. Choose your attitude.
By now you’re really strong. To have survived here in Michigan, whether you grew or not, during the past 10 years is no small feat. There were many headwinds, mostly macro-economic, that made doing business extremely difficult. That difficulty, though, creates strengths and abilities. 
You’ve figured out how to manage cash in tough times. I’m impressed by the number of companies who sought out and met new demands as sales waned. You’re an entrepreneur and you’re now probably in a position of strength thanks to your tenacity. You’re the sapling who grew into a full grown tree against all odds. You’ve likely down sized your own personal life. Now it’s time to leverage that strength into growth. That just got easier.
The leadership in Lansing understands job growth. Our state leaders say they intend to invest in second stage growth companies already in Michigan rather than solely investing in recruiting companies from outside Michigan that are seeking lower costs. The former is called Economic Gardening, the latter is classic Economic Development. We think they can work together by recruiting businesses that can help Michigan companies grow. What we hear is encouraging and should make business owners optimistic.
There’s a re-birth of Michigan underway. There is a renewed interest in returning to the Midwest. Adults who grew up in Michigan are returning from the coasts for a more reasonable, better quality of life. Organizations such as MichAgain, Global Michigan and Detroit Venture Partners are working to rally the momentum from that interest into measurable economic results. They are selling our strengths instead of enticing with tax breaks. They know you can grow meaningful, global companies right here in Michigan.
Growing population in a smaller world…chose your attitude. More people = more demand; combine that with a flatter world and you can tap that demand everywhere from just about anywhere. That’s opportunity.
But it begins with you and your attitude. Gov. Snyder uses the term “Relentless Positive Action” as his theme to rally his troops to solve problems. It’s a great culture for growth. When is the last time a governor (of any state) was creating a growth culture like ours? It’s so different – it creates hope. If the positive attitude doesn’t incite optimism for business owners and leaders in Michigan, I don’t know what will. 
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