Michigan’s economy is going strong, with lower unemployment and hundreds of thousands of new jobs. But what’s our plan for the future?
That’s the question Gov. Rick Snyder posed to the newly created Building the 21st Century Economy Commission. The goal of the commission is to come up with both short and long-term recommendations that will ultimately provide an economic roadmap capable of propelling Michigan through the 21st century and beyond. It’s my honor to serve on that Commission and bring a West Michigan perspective to the conversation.
Here in Grand Rapids, we’re doing great. Our unemployment rate in Kent County is an incredibly low 3.1 percent, and businesses are sprouting everywhere. In November, Alcoa – the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum, and a Whitehall staple – announced the launch of its new innovation and technology arm, Arconic, a leading global provider of manufactured parts for aerospace, automotive and other growth industries. Alcoa could operate anywhere, yet chose to invest more than $40 million in West Michigan. I’m proud to have launched my own small business – a new restaurant called The Candied Yam, serving some of my favorite southern comfort food.
But what do we have to do to lay the groundwork for others to create their own enterprises in the future? What are the skills Michiganders will need in the future economy? What kind of investments do we need to make in infrastructure and education upon which we can build our foundation?
This week, the Building the 21st Century Economy Commission will be visiting Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, meeting with local leaders, job creators, young and old to hear what they think our future economy will look like and what we have to do to prepare for it.
We have reached an exciting point in our state’s history. After having to focus for too long on solving the problems of yesterday, we can now begin looking forward to tomorrow, to build off our successes and create new and exciting economic opportunities for all Michiganders in every region of the state.
It’s up to us to create our own destiny, to build a brighter future. Let’s get to work.
Jessica Ann Tyson serves on Governor Rick Snyder’s Building the 21st Century Economy Commission, and is the President and Owner of JA PR Group, LLC.