Executives forecast positive economic growth


In the race for economic development and recovery, Michigan might have a head start.

Business Leaders for Michigan last week unveiled an economic forecast for both the state and the country that forecasts growth for the next six to 18 months. The projection also anticipates Michigan’s economic development to outpace the growth of the U.S. economy. 

BLM develops strategies, advocates policy and champions initiatives that will make Michigan a ‚ÄúTop Ten‚ÄĚ state for job, economic and personal income growth, according to its website. The business roundtable is comprised of 80 chairpersons, chief executives or senior executives of Michigan‚Äôs largest job providers and public universities.

The group generates more than $1 trillion in annual combined revenue, provides more than 325,000 direct and 820,000 indirect jobs in the state, and makes up about 25 percent of Michigan’s economy. Although a higher percentage of business leaders believe the state’s economy will improve in the long term, a majority of them still hold a positive outlook on Michigan’s economic development in the next six months.

The survey reported 64 percent of business leaders believe the state’s economy will be better in six months, while only 51 percent anticipated the U.S. economy will improve during that timeframe. The optimistic view on the nation’s economy increased to 63 percent when taking an 18-month view. The long-term outlook for Michigan’s economy grew by roughly the same percent, from 64 percent to 79 percent of business executives holding a favorable view on growth.

Doug Rothwell, president and chief executive officer at BLM, said the resolution of the federal budget, debt ceiling negotiations and strong year-end financial reports from major Michigan employers are fueling the optimism.

Kelly Chesney, vice president of marketing and communications for BLM, said 52 percent of business leaders project job additions in the next six months. In addition, 33 percent of executives anticipate making capital investments in the state, which may include ‚Äúretooling plans or expanding their facilities,‚ÄĚ according to Chesney.

‚ÄúOur major employers are very optimistic for our state,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúSo I think it bodes very well for Michigan.‚ÄĚ

According to a statement from BLM, almost 10,000 jobs and a combined total of roughly $7 billion was invested in the state of Michigan in 2013. Both job and capital investment growth can lead to economic development and a potential to regain footing after the recession.

Michigan is home to multiple organizations dedicated to advancing Michigan’s economy and local businesses, such as Grow Michigan LLC, Grand Angels and The Right Place Inc.

Based in Ann Arbor, Grow Michigan reported this month a total capital investment of $141 million for 12 loans in 2013 for small businesses that currently employ more than 1,000 Michigan workers.

In West Michigan, The Right Place focuses on driving regional economic development initiatives and created more than 2,000 jobs in 2013. Since 2009, the organization has created $749 million in capital investment and completed 67 economic development projects, according to its 2013 annual report.

Another investment organization located in West Michigan has made an impact since its launch in 2004. Grand Angels, based in Holland, announced last week an investment of $12.9 million across Michigan from inception through 2013, averaging $1.29 million in capital investments each year. The organization hopes to invest $2.3 million in 2014.

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