The Michigan business community last week stood up and took responsibility for providing an end to the turmoil that threatens this beautiful peninsula with economic extinction. The business leadership team formed last week represents every geographic area of the state, and that accomplishment alone is akin to Republicans and Democrats compromising on policies to move this state forward. And they must.
First, business organizations from across the state held simultaneous press conferences in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit with representatives of Detroit in Grand Rapids and vice versa. By week’s end, the rumored “enlargement” of Detroit Renaissance economic development agency proved true, and its leader board represents business east and west — and north and south.
Organizations such as the chambers of commerce, Michigan Association of Realtors and Small Business Administration of Michigan together provided a 20-point plan to repair the state budget, as the legislature appears unable to do so in the eleventh hour of constitutionally mandated approval.
That plan was necessarily bolstered by the action of the Detroit Renaissance organization, now called Business Leaders for Michigan. The group unveiled its new membership with a Michigan Turnaround Plan, a tutorial of sorts for legislators seriously hampered by term limits and therefore general lack of experience and knowledge in regard to some of the most severe issues ever faced by this state.
Why is it necessary? Because legislators and state staff have been dismissive of any business group advice as “partisan.” One might suggest we furlough state workers and legislators, and leave them to queue up in unemployment lines for nonexistent jobs in the private sector as cure for their ignorance.
Why is it necessary? Because even last year, as the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce ended a Regional Policy Conference attended by more than 600 leaders from throughout the region and across the state, the governor’s Michigan Economic Development Corp. president dismissed it as “Grand Rapids” or “just West Michigan oriented” — this despite the fact that the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce established similar legislative issues as necessary.
Necessary because non-partisan think tanks inclusive of Michigan citizens (Center for Michigan and Michigan Future) have been ignored despite constituent pleading to the state for resolution to the devastation.
As the Detroit Renaissance evolved to a statewide organization, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer thought he should offer comment on the progress, suggesting Detroit Renaissance is “abandoning Detroit to become the platform for the political ambitions of David Brandon and Doug Rothwell.” His is what must be dismissed, because it suggests that the same old partisan lines and ideology that has left Detroit destroyed and desolate should be continued. Brewer further defensively insulted the necessary organization of business leaders stating, “Conspicuously absent from their so-called ‘turnaround plan’ is any sacrifice by the greedy, corporate CEOs, such as a reduction in their excessive salaries and perks.” He must be talking about the demise of General Motors and Chrysler leaders whose fault has been giving in to the greed of union bosses acting as leeches on the automotive industry for their own union executive benefits. Indeed, they are still too foolhardy to realize that after sucking all the blood
from the host they, too, will die.
Legislators must follow this example set forth by business leaders across the state and set aside differences to survive.