In the national and global race for strong professional talent, how can Michigan get a leg up on the competition? How does the Great Lakes state become a top 10 state where families and young professionals want to live, work, grow and play? Some of Michigan’s top business leaders gathered together to answer these questions about making Michigan more competitive and how exactly the state should do it at the Detroit Regional Chambers 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Featuring a laundry list of CEOs and presidents, the panel’s conversation focused on how business and political leaders can make Michigan an attractive place to live and work, as well as the importance of having an educated and trained workforce of the future.  One Detroit revisits a portion of the panel’s conversation on the future of work and jobs in Michigan.

Moderated By: Paul W. Smith, Host, WJR NewsTalk 760 AM. The panelists include:

  • Awenate Cobbina, Chief Executive Officer, Bedrock Group LP; Chairman, Michigan Economic Development Corp. Executive Committee
  • Maureen Krauss, President and Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Regional Partnership
  • Sandy Pierce, Senior Executive Vice President, Private Bank and Regional Banking Director and Chair, Huntington Michigan
  • Dug Song, Chief Strategy Officer, Cisco Secure; Co-Founder, Duo Security
  • Sandy K. Baruah, President and Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Regional Chamber
  • Tina Freese Decker, President and Chief Executive Officer, BHSH System
  • Quentin Messer Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Michigan Economic Development Corp.; President and Chair, Michigan Strategic Fund
  • Howard Ungerleider, President and Chief Financial Officer, Dow

Find more on-demand coverage from the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference sessions, including on-site interviews by One Detroit Founding Managing Editor Christy McDonald on One Detroit’s website or YouTube.

Full Transcript:

Paul W. Smith, Host, WJR NewsTalk 760 AM: From your perspective, Dug, is Michigan competitive? And if not, why not?

Dug Song, Chief Strategy Officer, Cisco Secure; Co-Founder, Duo Security: So I think we have a larger role to play, particularly in the new jobs, new economy of technology, innovation and so forth than we actually get credit for. But people don’t generally think in tech of Michigan necessarily as a growth state.

Dug Young: I think it’s evidenced by the fact that we have not actually grown, our population and so forth. But neither did they actually think of auto actually as a tech industry, which actually is. The big challenge, though, is that as the World Economic Forum, they just had a report on the future of jobs.

Dug Young: There’s 75 million jobs that will be displaced by technology, with 133 million new jobs being created that are digital. And we have to fight harder for the jobs that remain in manufacturing. Our manufacturing levels are back up, but with a third less jobs.

Dug Young: And in some cases, you know, like an easy as many of you know, it takes 30% less labor to actually develop. So we have to fight harder for not just the jobs that we have, but for the jobs of the future. And those really are driven by technology innovation.

Sandy Pierce, Senior Executive Vice President & Chair of Michigan, Huntington Bank: We have to worry about K through 12. And when you look at where we stand in the state of Michigan, let’s not go global right now. Let’s just stay in the United States of America. We are 33rd in the eighth-grade math scores; 39th in fourth-grade reading.

Sandy Pierce: We’re 41st in high school graduation. We have to invest in our children for the jobs of the future. And we have to have them graduate and want and give them a path for jobs that will be available. And but people aren’t going to come to this state when they look at those statistics and they don’t have the talent here.

Awenate Cobbina, CEO Bedrock Manufacturing Company Chairman, Michigan Economic Development Corporation Executive Committee: As a relatively new transplant to Michigan, I had never thought about coming to Michigan for tourism or livelihood prior to coming. And I came for a job and I’m still here six years later and I love it and I’m here on stage. So thank you for having me. But the thing that we are missing is not there’s not a one size fits all solution.

Awenate Cobbina: There’s many different populations of talent, some of whom come here for two or four years for university, and then some of them leave. People that grew up here and went through the K-through-12 school system and then moved along. Or others like Dug and I, that grew up somewhere else and would stay.

Awenate Cobbina: So you can’t have a 1 size fits all solution, but people want a lot of the same things. They want to have a good life. They want to have a good job. They want to have mobility. They want leisure activities. And those are things that we have parts of. But we need to create a vision of the life that they could have that enables them to come join us.

Sandy K. Baruah, President & CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber: We’ve got a long way to go. You know, Jeff Donofrio at lunch, talked about, you know, where is our common shared vision of where our economy is going, what our industry needs, and how are we mapping to that. Right? How are we mapping the skills of tomorrow that our industry of tomorrow where we have competitive advantages? You know, what are we mapping to that? Right.

Sandy K. Baruah: How do we ensure that A, we make the state more attractive for especially young, talented people? And how do we then communicate that to people? And then and then finally, the sense of urgency. And, you know, our all our friends, John Rakolta has really been pushing on this, which is we need a sense of urgency. We need we need action.

Sandy K. Baruah: You know, not soon, but sooner than soon. And he’s talking about a commission or, you know, maybe that’s the right idea. But whatever we need to do, we need to do something robustly. We need to do something big, and we need to do it quickly and it needs to be in a bipartisan way.

Quentin Messer Jr., CEO, Michigan Economic Development Corporation President & Chair, Michigan Strategic Fund: So I’m grateful to be sitting on stage with leaders like this, being here at a confab. We have some of the best minds globally that are thinking about how to change the marketplace, whether it’s health care, whether it’s research, chemicals, financial services, mobility, you name it.

Quentin Messer Jr.: So gratitude to see for more so we can’t lose perspective on what we have. The second thing or two things that my dad told me, you have to be your own best critic. You have to be relentlessly objective. But you also be your own best cheerleader. We are very good at being the critic. We must celebrate what we have here.

Stay Connected: 

Subscribe to One Detroit’s YouTube Channel & Don’t miss One Detroit Mondays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.

Catch the daily conversations on our website, Facebook, Twitter @DPTVOneDetroit, and Instagram @One.Detroit

View Past Episodes >

Watch One Detroit every Monday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET on Detroit Public TV on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.