Gov. Rick Snyder plays economic matchmaker during two-day jobs summit

In an effort to begin matching Michigan’s talent to available jobs, Gov. Rick Snyder kicked off a two-day jobs summit last week at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Stressing that the state is “loaded with talent”, Snyder’s biggest idea revolved around ensuring that Michigan doesn’t lose its youth due to limited opportunities. The first part of the two-day event included a pitch from a handful of college students studying a variety of majors. They spoke directly to local business, academic and government leaders.

Michigan’s economic survival rests on providing incentives that keep new and recent college graduates from leaving the area. That means creating more job opportunities so that people, young and old, won’t feel as though they have to move out of state to find suitable work. It’s a challenge the state must willfully accept to remain afloat.

This week’s summit sought to benefit not just job seekers but also prospective employers. Gov. Snyder expressed an intent to offer insight as to the type of talent available in Michigan, and who exactly is looking for work. The conference also addressed key challenges and how the community can come together to provide viable solutions.

“I think it’s always good when you sit down with various industries and you ask them, what is wrong with Detroit? It’s always enlightening and eye opening”, said Nathaniel Wallace, Vice President of the Farmington Hills-based firm Communications Professionals.

Wallace expressed he feels one of the main advantages of the conference is that it gave business leaders an opportunity to forecast. A Detroit resident, Wallace shared that his company looks to do more business in the city and wants to better understand possible roadblocks.

“I wanted to hear other business owners’ perspectives on how they do business… as far as retaining talent and adding more local human capital”, said Wallace.

While several attendees did get an opportunity to share their best practices with each other, certain representative groups were noticeably absent from the conference. Referencing the lack of diversity, Wallace expressed he would have loved to see more participation from black businesses.

“We need to understand what is going on as far as Michigan is concerned…we need to tell our stories too, but we are not showing up”, said Wallace.

What’s to blame for the limited presence of individuals who most closely reflect a majority of Detroit’s population? Wallace shares it might be due to a variety of reasons.

“Either we don’t know, we aren’t invited or we just don’t think that it pertains to us.”

Spreading awareness is as always, a matter of relevance. It is important that minorities, just as much as members of the entire community become more involved in the conversation surrounding the state of our local economy. It’s the first step, and a major one toward better understanding and overcoming its most pertinent challenges.

The big question is, how do we close the gap so that individuals from all walks of life can better benefit from activities like the one held this week? 

Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @missbritneysp 


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