Why Michigan? A Q&A With Hilary Doe, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

The business climate in the Great Lakes State is full speed ahead for mobility, clean energy, and other growth industries, according to Hilary Doe, MEDC's Chief Growth & Marketing Officer.

By BF Editors
From the May / June 2024 Issue

 

Business Facilities: Tell us about the status of economic development in Michigan.

Hilary Doe: Coming off the heels of the City of Detroit’s successful NFL Draft weekend [in April], it’s clear that Michigan has incredible momentum. We’re innovating in the ways that we help businesses invest and expand in Michigan, and in our strategies for attracting and retaining talent, all while raising the quality of life for those who call the state home. Whether a business is a one-person startup or a multibillion-dollar organization, we are working together to strengthen our communities and economy.

Hilary Doe, Chief Growth & Marketing Officer, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Hilary Doe, Chief Growth & Marketing Officer, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
BF: Why should companies consider Michigan for their next relocation or expansion?

Doe: Michigan has everything that companies need to innovate and become market leaders. We are a Top 10 state for research, development, innovation, and patent creation, with the fourth highest business R&D spending-to-GDP ratio in the country. We boast the highest concentration of engineers in the country, and once an innovation is ready to ship, the supply chain is made easy thanks to Michigan’s unparalleled access to roads, water, and air. Most importantly, our workforce is unmatched. Our top-tier talent has the grit and tenacity required to move any business forward. And, our natural beauty is unparalleled, and our diverse cities and cultural amenities repeatedly win accolades as first in the nation destinations. That makes the perfect backdrop for any growing company or startup. Bottom line: we know how to Make it in Michigan — that means we work together to move faster, deliver best-in-class talent and get results for our partners and our people.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Calumet Electronics, based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, specializes in engineering and manufacturing high-quality printed circuit boards, vital for key industries. (Photo: provided by Michigan Economic Development Corporation)
BF: What are targeted or growth industries in 2024?

Doe: Michigan is strategically positioned to strengthen familiar industries, while growing our leadership in new ones along the way. Clean energy tech is a focus for our team, aligning with the priorities presented in the MI Healthy Climate Plan. Michigan will play a key role in the clean energy transition. Additionally, over the past several years, we have focused on bringing semiconductor manufacturing to Michigan, given the need for this resource from the automotive, mobility, tech, and medical device industries, among others. Additionally, we will continue to build upon our successes in mobility, life sciences, aerospace, and defense, with opportunities for growth across sectors in 2024 and beyond.

BF: Why are the state’s location and infrastructure advantageous to companies?

Doe: The Pure Michigan difference shouldn’t be overlooked. Our over 3,000 miles of freshwater coastline and countless awe-inspiring cities and towns are a critical advantage in the war for talent — especially in an era of remote work. Talent wants place, and business needs talent. Ensuring everyone knows that Michigan is a great place to live, work, and play is critical to state’s strategy for growth.

Additionally, nearly half of the U.S. and Canadian population lives within 500 miles of Michigan, making it perfectly situated for businesses to thrive, with unparalleled access to markets in and out of state. And for companies ready to export, Michigan has 3,600 miles of railroad tracks, 33 deepwater ports on the Great Lakes, and 19 commercial airports, including Detroit Metropolitan, one of the largest U.S. air hubs in North America.

BF: Why is the Michigan workforce an asset to business?

Doe: One of the first questions that companies ask economic development agencies is “How many people can I hire, and how fast can I hire them?” In fact, 80% of businesses cite talent as the main factor they consider when deciding to expand operations. Talent is paramount.

In addition to world-class institutions among an incredible system of 93 colleges and universities, Michigan’s trade schools are preparing a workforce capable of filling what’s projected to be 520,000 jobs in the professional trades by 2030. In Michigan, we have initiatives, programs and campaigns that are connecting our eager and qualified workforce with companies across all industries. Our state is also number one in the nation in concentration of engineers, and number one for commercial and industrial designers —critical to both established and growing industries.

Finally, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Talent Action Team has been awarded national recognition, including a Fast Company Top 100 Most Innovative accolade for Business Services. These programs help to train and retain Michiganders, while connecting Michigan graduates with strategic employers to fill critical roles.

Time and again, the Michigan workforce has proved anything is possible, taking dreams and making them real. There are no better people to help your company build the future.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation
In May 2023, Governor Gretchen Whitmer unveiled the comprehensive Make It In Michigan strategy for economic growth in the state. (Photo: provided by Michigan Economic Development Corporation)
BF: Why is the quality of life in Michigan desirable?

Doe: Our state stands out, boasting unique geographical diversity and welcoming, inclusive communities that come alive year-round with activities tailored for each of our four seasons. Michiganders have the best of all worlds — from lively cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids, to the creative flair in Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, to the outdoor wonder in Traverse City and Saugatuck. Regardless of your passion, career, or hobbies, you can find it all in Michigan.

Simply put, Michiganders have everything they need to live their best life, no matter whether you’re getting your first job, relocating your business, or finding a place to lay down roots, Michigan’s affordable home prices, safe neighborhoods, highly ranked schools, and career opportunities are an important part of the quality of life equation. And we’re still just scratching the surface when it comes to the great things about the Michigan life.

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BF: Why is the future bright for business in Michigan?

Doe: We have a comprehensive strategy called Make It in Michigan [introduced in May 2023], focused on continuing our momentum to build a brighter future. We believe that everyone can Make it in Michigan, from our talent looking for good-paying jobs to our companies and entrepreneurs focused on scaling their operations and innovating in their fields. We’re staying competitive in the business ecosystem, while also committing to improving quality of life for Michiganders across our state.

BF: What is the vision for the state’s economic development path?

Doe: We’re focused on three key areas: Projects, People and Places. We are investing in People, by fostering opportunity and reducing barriers to grow the middle class. We are competing for and winning Projects by nurturing innovation and talent attraction across diverse sectors of the economy. And we’re focused on Place — working to build strong communities by investing in local efforts to create vibrant and welcoming places that offer a high quality of life for Michiganders. We know that making Michigan an even better place for residents and business leaders alike will ensure economic growth that benefits all Michiganders — current and future.

Check out all the latest news related to Michigan economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.

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