Michigan talent attracting companies

Mlive recently ran an article on HP opening a new IT services office in Pontiac. According to the article “the center expects to hire more than 200 technically skilled employees as well as an undetermined number of support personnel.” Why is HP coming to metro Detroit? According to HP Vice President Rick Sullivan:

HP selected the Pontiac location because of the availability of a high-quality workforce that includes applications and software developers and testers who are experienced in developing and building systems that most public entities use. HP also found attractive the proximity of schools like University of Michigan, Michigan State and other universities and community colleges that offer not only newly trained personnel but also resources for retraining, Sullivan said.

This is consistent with our core belief that in an increasing knowledge-based economy, talent/human capital is the asset that matters most and is in the shortest supply. That increasingly companies will go where talent is concentrated. Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, summed it up best: “Start with this proposition: The most valuable natural resource in the 21st century is brains. Smart people tend to be mobile. Watch where they go! Because where they go, robust economic activity will follow.”

What this means is that preparing, retaining and attracting talent is now economic development priority #1. Being human capital friendly – more than physical capital –  will determine Michigan’s future prosperity.

Its not just HP. Crain’s recently ran an update article on GE’s new Manufacturing and Software Technology Center in Van Buren. Same basic story. Crain’s writes: “General Electric Co.’s hiring spree in Southeast Michigan is anchored by local talent experienced in information technology.” Once again Michigan talent attracting a world class company. In this case it is 1,100 jobs or more with an average pay, according to the company, of more than $100,000! Crain’s writes: “the company is hiring about 10 IT professionals a week, and by 2013, the Van Buren facility is expected to house the largest concentration of GE IT employees in the world.”

You read that right: Michigan home to the largest concentration of GE IT employees in the world. GE made this decision in 2009. According to those living on plant ideology – many of whom are state policy makers –  this can’t be true. Remember those are the days when Michigan supposedly had the least friendly business climate in the country that prevented us from attracting private sector investment to create new jobs. What nonsense!

Michigan’s fundamental challenge is that we are 36th in the proportion of adults with a four-year degree. Where we have talent we are creating and attracting new jobs. If we do what is necessary to concentrate talent here we will prosper, if we don’t we will get poorer.

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