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Why is Talent Important?

In recent decades, our economy has changed in fundamental ways. Economic prosperity is no longer based on mass-scale manufacturing. Success in today’s increasingly globalized economy is a function of one essential factor: access to talent. Today, the strongest driver of a state’s economic prosperity is the education level and skill set of its citizenry.

The data on our performance is pretty damning:  Michigan currently ranks 34th among the states in percentage of residents with a 4-year degree and 36th in per capita income. Put simply, we’re losing the global war for talent.

Similarly, the wealth gap in this country has grown ever wider, with people with more education and skills receiving an ever increasing share of the spoils of a growing economy. Because of centuries of institutional racism, this effect is even greater in communities of color.  

This means that Michigan must focus on policies designed to (1) develop more home-grown talent in Michigan by improving K-12 and making higher education more affordable and ensuring that EVERYONE has equitable access; (2) retaining that talent in Michigan after it graduates; and 3) attracting more talent from outside of Michigan by building a strong major metropolitan area and vibrant urban cores around the state.

Focusing on improving the education level and skill sets of our citizenry goes hand in hand with supporting individuals' access to opportunity to create jobs and amenities in their own communities. And, we must have equity as our North Star. Michigan will only be prosperous again when ALL of its residents can participate fully in its recovery. 

The Michigan Talent Agenda is not a partisan effort. The facts are clear: promoting the MTA benefits all of us regardless of political affiliation. Supporters of the MTA come from a variety of places across the political spectrum, and the MTA welcomes the support of all.

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