From the Record Eagle:
Our unemployment rate remains the highest in the nation. Every day, individuals and families make the hard decision to leave the state to head to greener pastures, and government at all levels is being forced to reduce traditional services.
Michigan at this turn to the 21st Century is in much the same place as it was at the turn from the 19th to 20th centuries. Back then our state had relied on forestry and fur trading to create an economy. Early in the 20th Century, those resources were essentially gone.
But a new economy arose as the result of a collection of ideas and discoveries by entrepreneurs. Henry Ford, William Kellogg, Herbert Dow and others built a new manufacturing economy that served us extremely well during much of the 20th Century, enabling Michigan to grow and prosper.
Now, that manufacturing economy is in full decline, and Michigan must redefine itself in a way that creates a new economy for this new century. To do so will require the attraction of the same kind of talent that helped create the economy of the 20th Century. That means we must embrace the quality of life factors that can attract the entrepreneur, the businesses and the young people who will help create that economy.
In turn, that requires a vision that embraces both the importance of our state’s tremendous natural assets and the creation of the kinds of walkable, bikeable communities that a new generation of Michigan citizens desire.
Leading the way in creating the kind of a vision that Michigan needs is the Grand Vision project in northwest lower Michigan, a unique partnership of business, governmental and nonprofit organizations.
Through their combined efforts, new ideas for a new future for that region are emerging. And they are ideas not generated from the top down, but from the bottom up. Some 15,000 area residents have participated in the process of defining a new vision for the Traverse Bay area, and more and more are talking about the future, rather than the past, every day.
The work is not yet done, but it is progressing nicely.
The Grand Vision offers a shining beacon of hope for all of Michigan. It is being watched by people across the state. Its eventual success can define a roadway to prosperity for all of Michigan.
About the author: William Rustem is president and CEO of Public Sector Consultants. Before joining the firm, Mr. Rustem was Gov. William G. Milliken’s chief staff advisor on environmental matters and interim director of the Toxic Substances Control Commission. Mr. Rustem was also first executive director of the newly established Center for the Great Lakes in Chicago.