Michigan’s Transition to a Knowledge-based Economy: Third Annual Progress Report


This is Michigan Future’s third annual report on Michigan’s transition to a knowledge-based economy. How well Michigan does in this transition will, in large part, determine whether we get more prosperous or poorer.

As we detailed in our 2006 A New Agenda for a New Michigan report, Michigan’s decline is caused, in large part, because Michigan – its citizens, enterprises and communities – has been slow to adapt to a rapidly changing global economy. Today, leading-edge communities are leaving behind the Industrial Age. They are adapting quicker and better to a more knowledge-driven and entrepreneurial economy: the flat world.

Click here for the Full Report
Click here for the Executive Summary
Click here for Appendix A
Click here for Appendix B

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Lou Glazer

About Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.


3 thoughts on “Michigan’s Transition to a Knowledge-based Economy: Third Annual Progress Report

  • Michigander

    Interesting read. Some of it should be common sense, but there are a lot of “people in a position” in this state that are happy to push for the status quo that has worked well enough for the last century (well, up until a decade ago, anyway…)

    I think it’s pretty clear that Michigan has to diversify its economical portfolio. Just like a wise investor would not put all of their money in Google, or even in market stocks in general, Michigan needs to do the same. That doesn’t mean we abandon the auto market. People need cars, and as entrenched and entangled in red tape as our auto industry it, it still is one of the top in the world. What we DO need to recognize however, is that the auto industry is not, and NEVER WILL BE what it once was. There was a time when three major manufacturers could barely keep up with the demand. In 2010? I think that, considering the large amount of quality competition found elsewhere, we’re looking at probably one major player. (and had the government not intervened on the part of GM and Chrysler, I think we’d be well on our way to that reality at this moment…)

    We need to diversify, but that’s easier said that done. We have some strong names in markets that will always exist in some form or another (auto, furniture), and some that are still going well today (chemical). We also have some up-and-comers in “tomorrow’s industries” (software). We need to really push these assets that we already have, because as much as we need to attract new players to our state, we also need to prop up the ones we already have here.

    In a perfect world, it would be amazing to have different business “districts” in Michigan. Something in the line of Detroit being auto/heavy industry (obviously scaled back and reimagined for the 21st century), Furniture/manufacturing for Grand Rapids (similar deal as Detroit), something like software/IT in the Lansing area, alternative energy technology for Flint, chemical research for Saginaw (would make sense with established Dow in the area, and also a straight-shot to Flint, which could make use of the research in alt-energy)…something like that. That puts us in a position where we are extremely diversified, and hopefully won’t find that the dissolution of one industry can literally flatten our entire state.

    As long as we’re having a pipe dream here, how about a high-speed rail line connecting all those districts as well? Young people want to live in vibrant city-centers because they are young, just out of school, aren’t tied down with a family, and want to be able to experience new things while they’re not busy rebuilding our economy. With that in mind, if having a Detroit, or a Lansing, or a Grand Rapids is a big selling point for a young person, think about having a Detroit AND and Lansing AND a Grand Rapids (not to mention Flint, Saginaw, and if you really want to shake things up, let’s run this thing up to Traverse City for weekend getaways…). There are so many great things about each one of those cities individually, but if a young person can literally pick one to live in, and then conceivably another to work in…well, I’m not that far removed from being a “young person”, and I can say with certainty that having that as an option would be a HUGE incentive for me to be in Michigan.

    Let’s all hang in there! Ideas are great, but the one thing we need before any of that matters is a resolve to want to make things better, to keep Michigan great! No matter what form that takes, we need to at least be on the same page there.

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