LANSING — Monday in Lansing, state and national higher education, economic and business leaders met to talk about how to strengthen and grow Michigan’s economy by leveraging its higher education system.

The event, hosted by Business Leaders for Michigan, was attended by 350 business, community, civic and academic leaders from across the state.

“We’re a diverse group, but our interests here are one and the same: ensuring adequate support for one of our greatest assets – Michigan’s higher education system,” said J. Patrick Doyle, President & CEO of Domino’s Pizza, Inc. “Our state cannot afford to continue its recent trend of declining investment in the talent pool of tomorrow. Businesses are struggling now to find the right talent. In the future, Michigan faces a very real shortage of nearly 1 million workers with a 2-year degree or better, so we need to think about educating and developing our work force.”

According to the Lumina Foundation, a private, independent foundation dedicated to increasing students’ access to and success in postsecondary education, Michigan faces a shortage of 1 million workers with a 2-year degree or better by 2025. The vast majority of the jobs of the future are going to require advanced technical skills, 2-year or 4-year degrees.

“At a time when we need to grow our number of college educated workers, Michigan’s policy on higher education discourages enrollment by making it too costly for many to attend college,” Doyle said. “For Michigan to compete nationally and globally, we need the best talent and innovative thinking in the world. To produce that talent and innovation, we must have affordable, high quality higher education. We are pleased by early indications from the Administration and Legislature that higher education may be a higher priority in the coming budget and would like to see additional funding be allocated based on a broad set of metrics that compare the performance of our universities to their national peers.”

The conference kicked off with an overview of BLM’s proposal for funding Michigan’s higher education system based on performance measurements and included panel discussions on talent, innovation, and economic growth as outcomes of postsecondary growth.

“Michigan’s universities are more than talent producers, they also are drivers of the economy,” said Doug Rothwell, President & CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “Innovation is a key driver of productivity, and Michigan can benefit by commercializing that innovation in the form of Michigan-based jobs.”

Today’s event also included presentations from university presidents from North Carolina and North Dakota, states that have made strategic investments in higher education. North Dakota has attracted out-of-state students to bring new dollars into the economy and maintain tuition rates for in-state residents, while North Carolina has adopted a strategy of making higher education affordable by providing state support.

The conference featured keynote addresses from Doyle and Phil Power, founder and president of The Center for Michigan, and panel discussions with nearly a dozen state/national higher education and business leaders.

For more information on how Michigan’s higher education system factors into the Michigan Turnaround Plan and the New Michigan strategy, visit:

Business Leaders for Michigan is a private, non-profit executive leadership organization dedicated to making Michigan a “Top Ten” state for job and economic growth. The organization is composed exclusively of the chairpersons, chief executives or most senior executives of Michigan’s largest companies and universities, which provide over 320,000 jobs in Michigan, generate over $1 trillion in annual revenue and serve over 135,000 students.

The organization’s work is defined by the Michigan Turnaround Plan. Visit for more information.


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