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West Michigan Policy Forum Part II: Business plans and manufacturing talent

September 12, 2012

Second Morning Session

The second morning session was introduced by the editor of the editorial page of the Detroit Free Press, Stephen Henderson. He introduced a shot video produced by Business Leaders for Michigan, entitled the Michigan Turn Around Plan.

The video promoted the idea that Michigan is a transportation center, has abundant natural resources, is a hub of life sciences – pharmaceutical industry, higher education marketplace. The hip video with upbeat music makes claims about the possibility of new job creation, investment and creating a new Michigan and is narrated by Ford CEO Bill Ford.

Following the video, Henderson was joined by Michael Jandernoa and Alan Schultz, to discuss the Michigan Turnaround Plan. The plan is based on 6 principles:

  • responsible management of finances
  • effectively and efficiently provide public services
  • create a competitive business climate
  • strategically invest for future growth
  • accelerate the growth of cities and metropolitan areas
  • leverage assets to grow the New Michigan

The Michigan Turnaround Plan is essentially supported by all the local chapters of the Chamber of Commerce, the State Chamber of Commerce, various business associations, and leaders of large businesses and corporations throughout the state.

Jandernoa emphasized that some of the was to implement this business plan, besides what Robert Genetski addressed earlier in the day, was the need to invest in higher education. Jandernoa meant that there need to be ways to both create and keep “talent” in Michigan. The translation of this means to prepare students with the skills that are needed by Michigan based businesses, which is no surprise since Jandernoa sits on the GVSU Foundation Board, along with the likes of Scott Weirda with CWD, JC Huzienga (National Heritage Academies), Sam Cummings (CWD), Kate Pew Walters and John Kennedy (Autocam).

The discussion then led to more condemnation of the Protect Our Jobs ballot initiative and the other two ballot proposals that will be on the November 6 ballot.

The forum then shifted to focus talent retention and creation. This section was facilitated by another journalist, Micki Maynard, with Michigan Radio. She introduced the topic by emphasizing that talent creation/retention was more important than trade. Maynard cited talent creation guru Richard Florida and made it clear that this issue if paramount for the Michigan Turnaround Plan.

Maynard then introduced two speakers who will address talent creation/talent retention, Cascade Engineering CEO Fred Keller and Brian Harris, CEO of H & H Metal Source. Keller spoke first and basically presented the platform put forward by the group Talent 2025. Talent 2025 is made up of 70 local CEOs, names that appear on the boards of the local GR Chamber, Right Place Inc. and other business associations. Keller postulated that an increase in college graduates would translate into economic growth. Forget about developing students with critical thinking skills or providing students with greater capacity for self-discovery or pursuing humanitarian principles………this is all about manufacturing students to make money for the business class.

Brian Harris then continued to present on the work of Talent 2025, by providing details of how this effort works. Harris also read from a teleprompter and basically provided an overview of the information on the Talent 2025 website. Harris made it clear that this group of CEOs is interested in manufacturing talent that even begins with influences early childhood development, all the way up to the university level, including adult workforce development programs.

It was clear that the business class is interested in influencing education policy and investing in education in such a way that it will translate into greater profits through a future workforce that has been developed in an education system that is primarily geared towards talent creation.

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