A New Culture for Michigan
Job, residential and economic activity are on the agenda
By Jackie Berg
Multicultural communication, business development and leadership will play an increasingly important role in strengthening Michigan’s economic climate, according to Governor Rick Snyder.
“One of the strengths of Michigan that we don’t talk enough about is the strength of our diversity,” he says. “I view our diversity as an asset. We can learn a lot from one another.”
And that knowledge and understanding translates to new opportunities for innovation, creativity and success, according to the Governor, who has called for reforms to welcome legal immigrants to Michigan, including an expansion of visas for the City of Detroit.
“One of the keys that made us successful in the past is going to again be the key to our future, and that’s immigration,” says the governor, who has called for the federal government to designate an additional 50,000 employment-based visas for skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs during the next five years. The visas would seek to attract highly-skilled, entrepreneurial, legal immigrants who commit to living and working in Detroit, thereby contributing to its economic and population growth.
In addition to encouraging new investment in Michigan’s urban centers, the governor wants to see more emphasis and support on getting unemployed residents back to work.
The drop in Michigan’s unemployment rate provides a new window of opportunity, according to the governor, who notes that employers are more likely to recruit, employ and train less-skilled candidates who would otherwise be left sitting untouched in a stack of employment applications during periods of full-employment.
Coupled with expansions in programs like the state’s Community Ventures Program, which has trained and placed more than 3,000 structurally unemployed people in jobs that pay on average about $14 an hour in Metro Detroit and $11.50 elsewhere since its inception ─ hope is on the horizon.
“The retention rate for this program is more than 70 percent,” says the governor, who wants to ramp up the hybrid public/private program now headed by Mike Finney, Snyder’s chief economic adviser and former CEO of the MEDC.
The effort will require more shared investments, according to the governor.
“We need to look at what resources are needed and who best can provide them, based upon where the benefits are going,” Snyder remarks.
Another top goal of Gov. Rick Snyder is attracting more workers to skilled and technical trades.
More than 70,000 jobs in the skilled jobs remain unfilled today.
Training and connecting workers for those better-paying positions is a priority, he said.
Overall, the governor is very encouraged by new alliances springing up throughout the state that are yielding more proactive conversations about education, economic development and community health.
“It takes time to build relationships and establish an open dialogue,” says Snyder. “But if you look at where we are, we’ve come a long way in the last few years in terms of engaging in constructive dialogue, particularly in regard to Detroit and our other urban communities.”
Continued conversation and cooperation is a necessity, according to Snyder.
“Multicultural collaboration, like the Minority Media Alliance’s publication partnership, are important and I’m very excited about the role your organization can play in helping to facilitate progress in Michigan,” he adds.