By KATHLEEN LOFTUS
Capital News Service
LANSING- Gov. Rick Snyder’s pledge to bolster economic gardening to rebuild Michigan means his administration will focus on encouraging in-state businesses.
Economic gardening through entrepreneurship is a development strategy highlighting in-state businesses that produce Michigan jobs instead of concentrating on recruitment of out-of-state companies.
Snyder said in his first State of the State address, “We need to put more emphasis on economic gardening as opposed to hunting. We’ll focus first and foremost on building businesses that are already here in the state.”
Rob Fowler, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, (SBAM), describes gardening as an entrepreneurial approach to economic development. It includes identifying expert talent and matching it with businesses that need it, he said.
SBAM’s economic scorecard benchmarks the state in the bottom five nationally. Business Leaders for Michigan, an advocacy group, wants to move it up to a “top 10” state.
Rapidly growing industries in Michigan include alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and homeland security and defense, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).
Mike Shore, vice president of communications at MEDC, said there are a variety of programs and training sessions that help local businesses. “We are empowered by the state to help businesses faster than they would on their own. We are ramping up efforts to help business owners and operators regardless of the circumstances,” Shore said.
According to Fowler, Snyder’s priorities for Michigan coincide with what many small business owners want.
Fowler said, “Of the seven candidates who ran for governor, none understand gardening better than Snyder. Gardening is a blueprint for what Michigan companies can and will do.” Incentives do not create jobs like gardening will, he said.
Fowler said most businesses that would prosper from such an approach are second-stage companies that have a strong backbone but aren’t fully developed. They have a staff of 10 to 100 employees. However, incentives remain part of the state’s strategy.
The Michigan Economic Growth Authority this month awarded tax incentives to nine companies to come to the state or expand here.
They are Avon Protection Systems Inc. in Cadillac; Changan US Research and Development Center Inc. in Plymouth Township; Chemetall US Inc. in Jackson; Crain Communications Inc. in Detroit; Macomb Group in Sterling Heights; Macprofessionals Inc. in Novi; Martinrea Jonesville in Jonesville; MTU Detroit Diesel Inc. in Brownstown Township; and NU-VU Food Service Systems in Menominee.
“MEDC is trying to attract and help young people in school look forward to making career plans with growing Michigan companies,” Shore said.
Michigan is not the only state considering Snyder’s economic growth strategy. California, Florida, Colorado and Washington are exploring it as well, according to Fowler.
© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.