A future in tech


Michigan’s economy has been fragile for more than a decade due to the state’s reliance on the manufacturing and automotive industries.

Nearly 1-million jobs left Michigan between 2000 and 2013. Not giving up, Michigan has fought back — including news that Amazon and Facebook are looking to invest, Switch making the move to Grand Rapids and a number of tech startups have started to fill the gaps.

In Grand Rapids, the shift in economy has been dramatic. From significant advancements in the Medical Mile to robotics handling many of the traditional manufacturing jobs, artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning are leading the fourth industrial revolution.

To push this shift, many of the large manufacturers in the area pulled from their cash reserves to fund startups, a lot of tech startups. And, as Grand Rapids is one of the biggest metro areas in the state, technology can and is bringing the state back.

The rub? Talent. The state continues to struggle to attract, retain and retrain talent to fill the new needs. Efforts to fill micro-credentials are becoming extremely important in solving the talent gap. Traditional four-year degree programs are being challenged to keep up. Tech boot camps and other sophisticated, multi-dimensional learning programs will shape the future of the workforce. Boomerangs — people who left the state when the economy was suffering — are starting to make the move back home. And the people coming back home want to invest their time, money and talent into turning Michigan back into a powerhouse.

Combining Grand Rapids’ desire to change and the resources pushing the change, the area is poised to be a leader in technical innovation.

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