Michigan’s Strong Economy: Invest in Entrepreneurs

By Kyle Pollock on February 1st, 2013 / Comments

As a Millennial, I always like to hear stories about Detroit’s Golden Age from my elders about what it was like to live during that time. My grandfather was fortunate enough to provide for his family from Henry Ford’s five dollar workday. However as many times as someone begins reminiscing about Detroit or Michigan I say “that’s not the Detroit or Michigan I know.” Michigan is not what it used to be, economically speaking. This is a good thing. Whatever our past used to be, we are building an even stronger future, and I can see it through Michigan’s entrepreneurs.

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to speak with Onlee Bowden at the 2012 BRIM event in Traverse City, Michigan. Being at an event on entrepreneurship, relentlessness, and innovation, naturally, we began a conversation about where Michigan is going, but we started that conversation with a little history.

Michigan’s Past Centralized Economies

Historically, Michigan has supported a centralized economy. First it was mining, when towns would built up around the Michigan mining industry. When the mining stopped, the towns died. Next, the timber industry built up towns like Traverse City, which was one of the few towns that didn’t die off. For most towns when all the trees were cut down, the built up towns were too. The automotive industry came in to dominate as an industry and a centralized economy fell once again. Whenever something is centralized, it creates a vulnerable system. Fortunately this is not where Michigan is headed today.

In Michigan, There’s Opportunity

When I  was in college I had a Michigan entrepreneur tell me, “If you want a job, go to Chicago. If you want opportunity, stay in Michigan.” This wasn’t to say that Michigan lacks jobs, but it was to say how much room it has for growth. When industries start to fall apart everything dependent on that industry falls apart too. A fallen dominant auto industry has allowed for the rise of other avenues, options and ways of doing business. There are now so many things that Michigan can be and is moving forward with a decentralized approach. Now entrepreneurs are doing business in all different industries creating a balanced economy.

Invest in People and  Entrepreneurs, Not Industries

The automotive industry is coming back. It’s good for Michigan’s economy to have a champion industry, just as long as it doesn’t dominate. Today industries are moving faster and faster. If we invest in people, not industries, we can be a state that is more agile, and more prepared for whatever comes. Industries are changing so fast, that people are responding to these changes, which requires a well rounded set of skills and the ability to learn quickly.

onleeOnlee wants to make public speaking accessible to everyday people who are conducting business, working for someone or themselves, whether they are pitching a new idea, or a parent who wants to stand up in a PTA meeting. “We think we have to become somebody bigger and better than who we already are. That we have to be better than ourselves so we wind up begging off from opportunities to speak.” Onlee says.

Whether you have a business you want to grow, a project, or just an idea, you should share your insights and ideas. Get together with people, share at the next conference or get people talking online.

Onlee Bowden owns her own consulting firm and specializes in professional speech coaching, organizational development and executing consulting. She has coached mayors, judges, journalists, award recipients, business leaders and more. Onlee invests in people, and that’s exactly what Michigan needs.

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About the Author

Kyle Pollock

Formerly with Booklify, he is a freelance writer, web designer, and enjoys different cultures. He sports Vibram FiveFingers on his runs and is a big fan of Michigan family owned businesses. He is an MSU graduate with a degree in Professional Writing.