Michigan’s economy is good, but must strive to do better

Since the end of the Great Recession, Michigan’s economy has been steadily improving. Just last month, economists at the University of Michigan released a report, saying: “Michigan added 24,100 jobs in the quarter, a sizzling 2.2 percent annualized rate.” The analysis also stated that personal income growth was slow but was expected to pick up over the next few years partially due to low unemployment. In other words, our state’s economy is good, but could always be better.
The key to residents of our great state getting more opportunities to thrive economically, is ensuring that Michigan remains business friendly. After all, we cannot expect there to be good jobs in our state, if we are hostile to job creators.
State Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Williams Township), a proven legislature who has worked hard to move Michigan forward, and is a decent man. However, his recent comments comparing Consumers Energy – the utility company — to “terrorists” that he would like to “shoot” are not reflective of what he nor our Republican Party stands for. The Representative’s frustration over a policy fight resulted in this unfortunate attack on an industry that employs thousands across our state.
Towards this end, I want to applaud Michigan Chamber President & CEO Richard Studley for working to ensure that Michigan’s arena of public discourse remains one that encourages vigorous discussion, respects differences of opinion and honors free speech. His response to Representative Glenn’s comments were on point: “Every employer, regardless of size or type of business, has the right to participate in Michigan’s legislative process and should be treated with courtesy and respect.”
One part of Representative Glenn’s disagreement with the utilities, is his plan to give consumers more choices on where to get their electricity. Albeit well intended, this approach was  tried in Massachusetts and the Attorney General in that state recently called for the program to be cancelled because it was rife with fraud and abuse. At a press conference on the matter, the Attorney General stated: “Competitive electric suppliers promise big energy savings but are actually burdening customers with hundreds of dollars in extra costs…In two years, Massachusetts residents lost over $176 million to these predatory companies. I’m calling for an end to this industry because that’s the best way to protect our seniors, low-income residents, and minority communities from these persistent scams.”
On the flip side of Representative Glenn, there is some good news for our state’s economy. The Ford Motor Company will purchase the Michigan Central Depot — Detroit’s decrepit train station that came to symbolize the downfall of that city’s economy. What’s so important about this purchase by Ford, is that it sends the message to businesses around the country that Michigan is fighting to better itself and the same can-do attitudes which originally made Detroit great are still there. I was particularly pleased to see the Washington Post cover this important story and remain hopeful this will help attract new businesses to our state.
During this year’s Super Bowl, a non-profit group affiliated with Governor Rick Snyder ran an advertisement touting the state’s economic recovery over the last several years and promoting our business-friendly state. This is the type of pro-growth rhetoric we need emanating from our state’s leaders, and why I am supporting Bill Schuette to be the next Governor of Michigan.
In addition to the good news cited in their report, the University of Michigan economic analysis also found that real disposable income growth in our state was “disappointing.” Let’s keep the discourse positive in Michigan, avoid attacks on businesses that offer our residents good paying jobs and celebrate the private sector’s efforts to rebuild our state. I believe we can make our state’s economy great again, and our legislative leaders are key to Michigan’s future. So long as their voices remain respectful, our state’s reputation as a great place to do business will continue to grow and many companies will follow Ford’s example.
John Akouri, is a former City 


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