Michigan needs more than an idealistic plan to revitalize the state’s economy if the current trend of positive change is to be expected to continue. The Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of the state’s business elites including University President Mary Sue Coleman, formed a list of goals that set to create jobs and bolster the economy. Included in its plan is a prediction that 500,000 jobs could be created with an $18,000 per capita increase in average income within 10 years. While this goal is admirable and the group’s enthusiasm is refreshing, it’s unreasonable to expect that this many jobs could be created in such a short amount of time without government and business cooperation.

Last Tuesday, the Business Leaders for Michigan announced its 2012 Michigan Turnaround Plan, which lists recommendations for ways to improve Michigan’s economy. The plan focuses on six ideas: utilizing engineering talent, capitalizing on Michigan’s geographic location, investing in higher education, taking advantage of natural resources, revitalizing the automotive industry and developing health and medical expertise.

Adding 500,000 new jobs to the state of Michigan would be greatly beneficial to the economy and would replace 60 percent of the jobs lost in the past decade. It’s unclear, however, who will pay for the investments needed to make this goal a reality. Without a clear plan of who will invest and take action to make this happen, it can’t be assumed that 500,000 jobs will magically return to Michigan’s economy.

Michigan ranks 39th in higher education state support per student in the country. Michigan must invest greatly in higher education, as a degree is a necessity in order to find a job in today’s economy. Doug Rothwell, CEO of the Business Leaders for Michigan, predicts that by 2018, as much as 62 percent of Michigan jobs will require post-secondary education. The cost of college has been steadily increasing as a result of decreased state funding. The government should put a stop to tuition increases by undoing their 15 percent divestment from public unversities to allow more people the option of higher education.

While the hopeful creation of more jobs for college graduates is beneficial for many people, much of Michigan’s economy is composed of people who have not received a college degree. Getting these workers employment or training them for new work should also be a priority. President Barack Obama has proposed serious incentives for companies to build manufacturing facilities to hard-hit areas. Investing in the factories of Flint and Detroit is vital in order for Michigan’s economic revival.

The Business Leaders for Michigan’s plan is a worthy plan for businesses, the government and citizens to follow. However, some of the goals in this plan, while idealistic, are impractical without definite funding. The government needs to invest in higher education, businesses and jobs for non-college graduates to bring Michigan to its full potential. It boils down to less talk and more action from everyone involved.

Michigan’s government should explore the business leaders’ recommendations while remembering that all residents must work together to put the state on the right path.

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