At the beginning of President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Wednesday night he reminded America about times of hardship in our nation’s history and that we prevailed because we were united:
“These were times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitations and our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, and one people.”
This is a time of hardship in our nation. Here in Michigan, I see every day how my loved ones are directly impacted by the automotive industry downturn. I watch helplessly as my family, friends, neighbors and colleagues pack their bags and move out of state for job opportunities because there are none here. But I remain optimistic. I truly love this state and I have faith that the people of Michigan will join together to rebuild our great state.
On Tuesday I attended GLITR 3.0: Innovating for Michigan’s Economic Future hosted by WWJ News Radio and the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report (GLITR) at Automation Alley. One of the speakers, Michael Harris, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Kettering University, forecasted that Michigan will rebuild and be known for its transformation through entrepreneurship and innovation. Another speaker, Randal Charlton, executive director of TechTown at Wayne State University, believes that we will go from being known as a state of tragedy to one of triumph. These are two powerful messages, but how do we get there?
Harris said there are five ingredients for Michigan’s future success:
1. Partnership between industry, government, non-profit and universities
2. Sharing of exceptional technical and scientific knowledge in order to foster growth
3. Contradictory personnel attributes (we need to be well disciplined yet challenge the process; we need to fight like a warrior but also be able to accept failure)
4. Appropriate and supportive government infrastructure
5. Availability of financial resources
In the end, it all depends on us. But are Michigan residents, businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, and government entities ready to work together as partners in rebuilding our state? We have so many valuable resources at our disposal - an abundance of natural resources, some of the best universities in the U.S., a talented workforce, and strong Michigan business brands. It is time to bring all of these resources together and leverage them to breed innovation for our state, whether it be in alternative energy, clean technology, automotive, or any other industry.
The overarching message from the president's speech and the GLITR presentations is simple: innovation is key to rebuilding for a better future. It will take time, but I am confident that Michigan will reinvent itself and rise from tragedy to triumph.
-- Jennifer Wilt