Short vs. Long Term

The new Snyder Administration is going to be under a lot of pressure to do what they can to deliver jobs now. The line will be folks needs jobs now, so that now is not the time to do long term structural change. Big mistake! One we have been making for decades. I don’t know of any levers that are available to Michigan (or any other sate) to create jobs at scale now. If there were, believe me, we would have implemented them already.

A better approach: identify the levers available to the state that can have the greatest impact on growing the Michigan economy. And get to work on all of them no matter whether the payoff is short term or long term. Getting started now on the levers where the impact is longer term are essential to positioning Michigan to be competitive in a flattening world. The longer we wait the longer it will take us to get where we need to go.

Three of the most effective economic development efforts I have seen were Texas and North Carolina in the Eighties making investments in their research universities as a major engine of their future growth and also in the Eighties, when the energy economy collapsed, metro Denver identifying and investing in assets they considered critical to be world class (a brand new international airport, downtown Denver, a regional arts tax and a regional transit tax). The payoff for metro Denver, Austin and the Research Triangle have been hugh. Any one doubt that they are better off for being long term and strategic ? Are there any set of tactical actions that could have gotten the same or better results than those long term and strategic investments?

In the Eighties most would have considered us in better economic shape than any of the three. But for the past three decades we have largely tried to make the old economy work for us, rather than making the investments needed to compete in the future.The result: metro Denver, Austin and the Research Triangle are better positioned for future success than us. Lets not make that mistake again.

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