What we do

Don Grimes and I are just putting the finishing touches on our annual report on the Michigan economy. It will be out in mid September. The genesis of these reports is the publication in 2006 of Michigan Future’s A New Agenda for a New Michigan. Which lays out our vision for a prosperous Michigan and our strategy for how we get there.

The annual reports Don and I do update the data from the New Agenda report and measure Michigan’s progress in making the transition to a knowledge-based economy which as an organization we believe is the essential ingredient to Michigan being prosperous––a place with a broad middle class––once again.

In doing the research that led to our New Agenda recommendations the Michigan Future Leadership Council started with a clean sheet. We didn’t assume that state and local policy was the answer. Nor did we start with preconceived notions of what the right answers are. Rather we identified the most successful areas in the country and tried to figure out what distinguished them from us, what assets we most needed to nurture here. We read a lot, collected a lot of data and talked extensively with thought leaders from around Michigan.

This “go where our findings take us approach” not only was the foundation of our New Agenda report and recommendations, but also of these annual reports. We are driven to, first and foremost, learn what is going on in the American and Michigan economy. Every time we do the research for these reports we learn something that we didn’t know or expect. And those new findings shape what we report.

The reports are made possible by generous contributions from Michigan foundations. Their support not only pays for our time, but also gives us the luxury of pursuing a “go where our findings take us approach”.  They too are interested in learning what is happening, rather than starting with an agenda––the answers––and writing a report that fits preconceived notions.

This year’s report is funded by the Hudson-Webber Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Other funders over the years have included the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Frey Foundation and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation

Even more than the New Agenda report––which was designed to recommend an action agenda––our annual reports are almost entirely a presentation of data. In a report of thirty plus pages only the last page restates our recommendations. And as we collect way too much data for the report we provide all the data we collect as appendices on the web site. We hope folks will not only read the report but also explore the data in the appendices.

There you will find for states, the 54 metros with populations of a million or more and all of Michigan’s smaller metros information on employment, earnings and personal income. From 1990-2010. With lots of categories of data in each of the three areas. I think if you take the time to explore the data it will change your perceptions of which states and regions are doing well. It sure has ours.

Once the report is published I will use these posts to explore the highlights of what we have learned about the national and Michigan economy. And which states and regions are doing well, which aren’t and why.

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