- Michigan has all the ingredients it needs to succeed in attracting and retaining high-tech talent.
- To be competitive, Michigan will need to take an “and” approach by being the first place that both shifts and deepens its adaptive efforts in the face of new technological challenges.
- A missing link in current efforts to attract and retain young tech talent is investment in curating college towns that reflect the hip and trendy lifestyle that students are seeking.
MICHauto partnered with Richard Florida’s Creative Class Group on a comprehensive study – “Michigan’s Great Inflection” – that benchmarks North American regions succeeding in attracting and retaining high-tech talent and businesses. The study offers a comparative analysis of Michigan’s assets in business and talent attraction and provides recommendations on what Michigan must do to be more competitive, including creating the Michigan Economic Transformation Alliance.
Florida began on an encouraging note, saying that Michigan has all the ingredients it needs to attract and retain high-tech talent. The mission moving forward will be aligning the business, academic, start-up, labor, economic development, and government communities to drive this progress.
Michigan’s shift from a primarily manufacturing-based industry to a primarily knowledge-based industry, which Peter Drucker first wrote about in the 1940s during his study of General Motors, laid the groundwork for this positive potential. The next step in the state’s “double transformation” will be the process of creative destruction, “when these gales blow across industries, replacing old industries and creating new ones.” Florida cautioned that “you can either adapt and align those technologies and make those innovations work for you because what happens if you don’t? You stagnate, and you die.”
To be competitive, Michigan will need to take an “and” approach by being the first place that both shifts and deepens its adaptive efforts in the face of new technological challenges. By using the technologies and innovations made in Michigan to create not a more efficient and effective automotive industry but a new automotive industry. One asset that will bolster this is a university research base that is second-to-none.
Although Michigan excels at retaining talent, it ranks last in the country for attracting educated young people between the ages of 16-26. Florida believes some solutions to this are bolstering the start-up community and more investment in curating college towns that reflect the hip and trendy lifestyle that students are seeking. He suggested that if the state can achieve alignment across sectors, provide talent with “better higher-paying jobs, cooler work environments, and college towns they want to live in,” and develop strong communities that families want to live in, it will be in a highly competitive position.
Following his keynote, Florida was joined in conversation by John McElroy, Host of Autoline, where he reemphasized the role of academic institutions and college towns within the growing knowledge economy, as well as that technology, talent, and placemaking are all related.
Florida said that each builds on and reinforces the others while lending additional structure, logic, and strength to the many initiatives already active in the state. By moving forward on this agenda, Michigan can create a stronger 21st-century economy and provide a model of inclusive and sustainable transformation and growth for both the nation and the world.