When BCBSM President and Chief Executive Daniel J. Loepp chaired the Mackinac Policy Conference in 2007, he said there was a sense that Michigan was divided. Competing interests in different regions of the state meant gridlock.
It’s amazing what eight years can do.
When he introduced Governor Rick Snyder at this year’s conference, Loepp lauded his commitment to unite people across the state, making a tremendous impact on cohesion, one of the conference’s main pillars.
“There is one Michigan at this point,” Loepp said.
Snyder led his keynote address with a quiz about the state’s various rankings. The answers certainly point to movement in the right direction:
- #2: Michigan’s national rank in terms of economic health, according to analysis by Bloomberg.
- #6: The state’s position regarding entrepreneurial climate, a major improvement from 41st in 2008.
- 400,000: The number of new private sector jobs created since 2010, the 5th highest in the country.
He said continued progress relies on further collaboration across the state and a focus on economic development, particularly in the area of cultivating new talent, one of the conference’s main pillars. Throughout the conference, Snyder said increasing the talent base in the state in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the skilled trades is a way the state can have a clear competitive advantage.
Feeding into talent, Snyder also said the state’s education system needs to feel more streamlined for education consumers, from preschool to college. A well-educated citizenry is “the lifeblood of our future,” he said. Snyder said the system needs to be accessible so that people are able to fully realize their potential.
“We need to make it easy for people,” he explained.
Moving forward with one clear vision and direction was another call issued by Snyder to position Michigan as the greatest state in the nation. He ended his talk by repeating what has become his catchphrase of continuing to push “relentless, positive, action.”
Every year, conference leaders identify a to-do list to spark action and progress in the state. The 2015 list includes:
- Promoting an ethos of ‘doing well by doing good’ by featuring one civic organization at each Mackinac Policy Conference that is helping to make Michigan a better place to live and work.
- Promoting financial literacy in targeted communities through partnerships with financial services firms and the foundation and non-profit community.
- Supporting the revitalization of Detroit’s neighborhoods and narrowing of the opportunity gap through the promotion of entrepreneurship and gain a better understanding of micro-lending programs.
- Aggressively working toward the fix to Michigan’s critical transportation infrastructure that effectively solves the problem by dedicating sufficient long-term funding for this issue while keeping intact other critical funding essential to moving Michigan forward.
The 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference will be held Tuesday, May 31 through Friday, June 3.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was the Diamond sponsor of this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference. We’re committed to a continued investment in the entire state of Michigan. We’ve been leaders in a surging movement that is returning vitality to the state’s urban centers and believe that Michigan is stronger when the economies of our core cities are vibrant.
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Photo credit: Julie Bitely