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Austin To Lead New Michigan Economic Center At Prima Civitas Foundation

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LANSING — John Austin, President of the Michigan State Board of Education and a non-resident Brookings Institution Senior Fellow, joined the CEO of the Lansing-based Prima Civitas Foundation, Steve Webster, in announcing the launch of the new Michigan Economic Center, which will serve as an independent policy and action organization for the state.

The Michigan Economic Center will operate through the Prima Civitas Foundationand organize Michigan citizenry and leadership around important strategies for Michigan’s economic growth.

Austin said he would continue “to work with the Brookings Institution in support of economic transformation in the Great Lakes region, I am focusing most of my work on Michigan, my home state — projects and initiatives to advance a winning economic agenda for Michigan.”

Austin said that there is “no reason Michigan can’t be the world center for inventing and making the products of tomorrow by building the ‘Green’ and ‘Blue’ sustainable economies of smartenergy, clean water, healthy food, and transportation technologies. Through the center, we will ask the people of Michigan what’s special about this state and what they feel are the priorities for growing our economy.”

The center’s initial slate of projects include building support for more education, research, development, and deployment of emerging sectors and technologies;  capitalizing on Michigan’s water and Great Lakes location to build out the “Blue Economy”; and helping implement an urban innovation strategy as proposed by the Brookings Institution and Public Sector Consultants for Business Leaders for Michigan.

The center has already received a $225,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to implement another key initiative called “Michigan Dream Restored.” The project will develop policy proposals, as informed by Michigan citizens, that will help Michigan better support investments in economy -­ growing public assets.

The center will officially announce its strategies for Michigan Dream Restored next month when it names the project’s multi-sector advisory board.

“John Austin has been a visionary architect of some of the most important moves Michigan has made to transform our economy,” Webster said. “His leadership of the Michigan Economic Center will further support the Prima Civitas Foundation’s mission of harnessing resources for Michigan to grow its economic base in a global economy.”

The center has published the names of its initial Investor-Leadership Council on its Web site, www.MiEconomicCenter.org. Austin is recruiting additional sponsors and funders for the Center’s projects around urban-economic development, public goods, blue economy and new mobility.

Austin is also the former director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan and policy director  for the Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth.

More about Prima Civitas at www.primacivitas.org.

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