It is clear that Michigan is in the midst of serious structural economic trouble, perhaps the worst since the Great Depression.
Northwest Airlines and Delphi Corp. are already in Chapter 11. There are rumors and real concern about the stability of General Motors, Ford and much of the auto parts industry. There is a real possibility of descent into receivership for both the City of Detroit and the Detroit school system. Many county and local governments around the state are facing severe fiscal difficulties.
Not only is this crisis worse than others we've faced, but nobody thinks our problems will be resolved by anything as simple as a cyclical upturn in auto sales.
And what may be most troubling about today's climate is the relative absence of serious, probing yet civil discussion about what needs to be done next.
We believe the time is ripe to bring together Michigan leaders from a variety of backgrounds to develop a broadly acceptable, far-reaching economic policy agenda for our state. We recognize that state action alone will not determine what happens to our economy and, especially, our manufacturing sector. But it is reasonable to think there are things the state can and should do to help us get through these troubled times and begin to lay the groundwork for the next great Michigan.
To that end, we are planning an event entitled "Where Do We Go From Here? An Agenda-Setting Conference for the Economic Issues Facing Michigan." The conference will take place all day on March 14, 2006 in Ann Arbor.
The objectives for the conference are both simple and ambitious:
- Determine whether it is possible to develop a far-reaching, practical and broadly acceptable agenda to address our state's economic troubles.
- Identify the core components of such an agenda.
- Nourish the overall debate around the policy options facing our state.
The conference is co-sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan, and The Center for Michigan, a new think-and-do tank started by Phil Power.
The format includes expert papers on key policy areas followed by short commentaries by panelists. Break-out groups will consider and recommend policy goals through a structured and interactive process, to get the greatest value out of everyone's participation. A closing session will summarize the ideas generated during the breakout sessions and consider next steps.
For more information, contact CLOSUP at 734-647-4091 or via email to 'closup at umich dot edu'.