Michigan residents believe New Economy strategies are important to state’s success

The general public and local officials agree that Michigan must develop an economy that is highly-skilled, diversified, entrepreneurial, and sustainable.

According to a new report issued by the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute (LPI), the general public and local officials broadly agree about six strategies that are important to Michigan’s economic future. They include:

  • Developing sustainable economic development strategies around natural assets.
  • Having a diversified economy.
  • Local governments working across jurisdictional boundaries.
  • More Michigan businesses successfully connecting to the global economy.
  • Public support of entrepreneurs when they are just getting started.
  • Having a large portion of the Michigan population with a post-high school degree.

The report, Public Opinion of the New Economy, Placemaking and Economic Development Strategies for Michigan: A 2012 Survey of Residents and Local Government Officials, features the questions and responses from two surveys conducted by the MSU Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) and LPI in 2012.

As part of the he 61st State of the State Survey, researchers asked Michigan residents to respond to nine statements and questions related to economic development, placemaking and the New Economy. The LPI also conducted an online survey of local government officials using the same statements and questions, as well as 10 additional questions about economic development and placemaking related to their jurisdictions. The intent was to compare responses between citizens and local officials.

Charles Ballard, MSU Professor of Economics and Director of the State of the State Survey said “These survey results suggest that both the general public and local government officials have a pretty good understanding of where we need to go. The challenge now is to find the right policies to get us there.”

Overall, the general public and local officials had similar levels of agreement related to the questions asked on the surveys:

  • Developing sustainable economic development strategies around natural assets is important to 95 percent of the general public and 98 percent of local officials.
  • Having a diversified economy is important to a majority of the general public at 96 percent and 100 percent of local officials.
  • Ninety percent of the public and local officials agreed that support of entrepreneurs when they are just getting started is important.
  • Almost 90 percent of the general public and close to 80 percent of local officials agreed that Michigan’s future economic success depends on having a large portion of the population with a post-high school degree.
  • Just over half of the general public (59 percent) and local officials (60 percent) agreed with the statement that young people choose places to live based on quality of life over job opportunities.

There were two points, however, where the two groups significantly differed in their opinions: 1) What is the most important strategy to pursue for Michigan’s economic success; and 2) Their familiarity with the term “placemaking.”

Survey participants were asked to pick one strategy that they felt was the most important for Michigan’s future economic success. Roughly 43 percent of respondents from the general public chose “helping people get degrees or specialized training after high school” as being most important. Among local officials, 41 percent said “assisting with business diversification so we are not so dependent on the automobile industry” was a top priority. The other two options included “helping entrepreneurs start new businesses” and “attracting and/or retaining highly educated workers.”

Both groups were also asked about their familiarity with the term “placemaking.” Only 14 percent of the general public said they are at least somewhat familiar with the term. On the other hand, 57 percent of local officials said they are at least somewhat familiar with the term.

While some differences exist, the survey results show that the public and local officials are in general agreement that New Economy, and placemaking-based economic development strategies are important for Michigan’s future economic success. To learn more about the New Economy and Placemaking contact a Michigan State University Extension educator near you.

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