Sunday, August 08, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen: Let's Move Michigan Forward For Once Instead of Backwards by Akindele Akinyemi

First, let me begin by saying that this commentary is MY personal opinion not the opinions of others.

Let me continue.

The primaries have passed here in Michigan and Rick Snyder is the GOP gubernatorial candidate. While Virg Bernero is the Democratic candidate for Governor we are witnessing something that has not happen in a long time here in Detroit.

Detroiters planning to vote for a Republican candidate over a Democratic candidate. 40 people have called me, including some people in my close inner circles, said they are voting for Rick Snyder because his message is positive.

Regardless of who you supported in the other races (State Representative, State Senator and County Commission) please keep in mind that the world will not end of your candidate did not win. Even though I did not endorse any candidates in the primaries there were some I was hoping that would win and they did not. I am glad that they ran a clean and solid campaign. And for those who won I hope they do a great job. We still need to move forward on putting together an urban execution plan to help revitalize our cities. This is crucial to the advancement of our great state.

While Rick Snyder is preparing to become the next Governor of the State of Michigan we must do our part of the developmental stages of connecting our urban communities to the rest of the globe. We should be ready to develop an urban community where children can go to bed knowing where their next meal will come from, a powerful inner city with a new mindset and an urban execution plan which offers a better life and better future. This is why the role of our urban conservatives and independents in Michigan is EXTREMELY crucial to victory in November.

We can no longer be living in the past by playing divisive politics and using fear tactics to scare people into voting. Instead we must develop new systems and ideas for not just the 21st century but the 22nd century here in Michigan. Fostering empowerment, through education, skills development, access to finance and leadership must emerge as a key issue, with a focus on young people.

Therefore, we must begin to transform Detroit, Muskegon, Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Highland Park, and Benton Harbor into economic hubs of commerce and development. Therefore, this community must move to identify fresh ideas for help compete in the global market that can gain traction and are able to attract the support of governments and policy institutions that can make them work. We must push for efforts to reform institutions and mechanisms of governance must be based on the principle of multidimensional cooperation in terms of economics, trade and development in our community to foster growth and development.

Today, in a more closely and deeply interconnected world, the lines between the economic, the social and the political have blurred. Political borders are increasingly meaningless, and domestic, regional and global dynamics are now hard to separate. Because things have shifted drastically we need to work more closely together in the common interest to resolve the challenges that faces us in Michigan. Business, government and civil society must collaborate. The multistakeholder approach is the most effective way forward.

Michigan is an emerging market in the 21st century but it is still being led by 20th century leaders. Regardless of the unemployment and job losses our state have suffered over the past several years we are still looking towards the future. The key is developing emerging leadership that are not afraid to take new bold steps to move our state forward.

With our ever changing demographics here in Michigan, the rising Internet penetration and our young techno-savvy population this will be the catalyst to fuel the drive for innovative technologies, products and processes.

Therefore, our urban hubs in Michigan must become centers of innovation where R&D takes place in places like Detroit, Flint and Saginaw and products are sold in developed markets is happening as investments and consumption continue to rise in this part of the world. We know that most new ideas are coming out of small companies and entrepreneurs, but to help them take those ideas to global markets, a new leadership in Michigan will need to step up with a supportive business environment, including efficient infrastructure, restructuring our tax system. Places like Tech Town in Detroit must be expanded as we rezone land to create research parks in other parts of the city to lure in companies for aerospace engineering, agricultural technology and information technology.

And we will need to invest a lot more in education as well as create a stable environment for investors and entrepreneurs to lay roots. The charter school vs Detroit Public School debate is OVER and its time for education to be taken to another level. This is something Mr. Snyder has been talking about since day one. However, our academic and financial crisis will not end in Michigan when Snyder wins in November.

We, as stakeholders, must understand the painful lessons of our own financial crisis and come up with solutions to help weather the state's financial crisis. However, by increasing financial literacy, education we can make Michigan more attractive by investing in both domestic and global capital from investors who will consider the state a hot market. And, as the state’s wealth rises and its foreign exchange reserves swell, Michigan will also becoming an increasingly important source of that global capital.

Therefore, it's time for Michigan to elect silver rights leadership that will help our state integrating economically and financially. More should be done to harmonize free enterprise so as to simplify intraregional trade and commerce. While it may not be possible to create a completely integrated regional regulatory framework, Michigan should avoid creating a patchwork of regulations that complicate life for multinationals or open new regulatory loopholes. Indeed, while the rest of the world is debating how to better regulate its financial industry Michigan still need to be innovative in their approach to create new industry for our state.

Now, with that said, Mr. Snyder has made our future young leaders a priority to help sustain growth in our state. We should assist with this measure by stop fighting over the governance of Detroit Public Schools and begin to promote urban educational empowerment zones to create economic development centered around high quality schools in our community with an academic focus that will create new student competition to help our children compete globally.

President Obama recently hosted a summit of young African leaders to discuss the development of the future of sub-Saharan Africa. I have been a long advocate of tapping into new resources to help diversify urban areas such as Detroit especially when it comes to Africa. To take this a step further some countries in Africa, more than 70% of the population is under 20. To add on, a young workforce that is not stuck in their ways of thinking will in the long term produce the kind of academic and economic powerhouses experienced in other areas like China and India. With Detroit's median age at 35.7 years we desperately need young people to take on the new challenges that we face globally. This is why I am glad to see young people like State Rep. Justin Amash to be elected to Congress in the Grand Rapids area, and John Olumba and Lisa Howze in Detroit be elected to the State House.

The youth in Africa are also helping fuel the mobile technology it is also creating both innovation as well as a new middle class that is emerging where urban consumers are buying and investing. Now I am not saying Mr. Snyder is going to tackle these issues head on, however, we hope that his administration, along with our State leadership, would foster a better environment for businesses in Michigan that can lead to global business by increasing trade and development by way of our foreign trade zones.

My point is with the right economic climate young Africans will invest in areas like Detroit and Grand Rapids to help change both the educational and economic dynamics of our urban communities.

I think Mr. Snyder will do well as long as he stay on message, not waste his time on a career politician like Mayor Virg Bernero in useless debates, and continue coming to Detroit and other urban areas to hear his message, take action and move forward. We have not had a Republican Governor in over 30 years where they had a positive relationship with Detroit. Former Democratic Mayor Coleman A. Young and Former Republican Governor William Milliken had a positive relationship that helped Detroit. While they slightly differed on the political philosophy they came together anyway because Gov. Milliken understood that the economy of Michigan would die if we did not have a strong Detroit.

We are at that point again. This time, when elected, Rick Snyder has an opportunity to foster a great relationship with Mayor Dave Bing to move not just Detroit forward but move both Southeast Michigan and the entire state forward. And let's not forget about Windsor, Ontario being part of this region as well.

It's exciting to see Detroiters coming out to vote for a Republican candidate. However, we have a personal responsibility to correct the wrongs of our community. Rick Snyder is a stakeholder not a Savior and for those who are viewing him as such is being disingenuous. We still have work to do to assist Mr. Snyder and his upcoming administration. This is where we need to hold our State Representatives, State Senators and County Commissioners accountable.

It's a new day in Detroit with urban conservatives, independents and other people who are seeking change. Let us continue to usher in silver rights leadership with Rick Snyder and others who are ready to deal with the challenges ahead and put Michigan back on the global map.

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