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Council calls on legislators, government officials and one another to take action on framework to drive growth

The Growing Michigan Together Council (the Council) voted 19 – 1 in support of submitting its comprehensive population growth report to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate today. The report examines Michigan’s challenges and outcomes, its competitiveness to faster-growing peer states and outlines growth-oriented strategies to reverse population trends. The Council worked closely with more than 60 individuals from four topic-oriented workgroups: PreK-12 Education; Higher Education; Jobs, Talent, and People and Infrastructure and Places, who produced an initial set of ideas for their consideration.

“The Growing Michigan Together Council focused on actions we can take to grow our state’s population and economy while protecting our quality of life and cost of living,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am grateful to the bipartisan members of the council and the workgroups for doing the hard work of tackling these big questions. In the months ahead, I look forward to reviewing the council’s report in detail and working with my partners in the legislature on solutions to grow the economy and population. Our future is bright and I know we can keep getting things done to help anyone ‘make it’ in Michigan.”

According to an independent report prepared by Guidehouse, Michigan’s population has decoupled from national population growth, creating a gap that’s unlikely to close in the next 20 years. Over the last five months, the Council investigated decades of trends related to key outcomes that could impact growth –  the performance of schools, overall economic health and the quality of infrastructure. The strategies the Council puts forth in its report serve as a starting point to address these fundamental issues and correct the population trajectory of the state to close the gap.

“Michigan is in an unfolding crisis. We’re 49th in terms of population growth and our PreK-12 education outcomes are lagging behind faster-growing peer states. While the challenges facing our state are not new, it’s critical that we take action now,” said Council Chair Shirley Stancato. “I’m grateful to my fellow council members who worked diligently to put forth a report we’re proud of that will guide our actions. But we can’t do it alone. To make these strategies a reality and drive real growth, we will need courageous leaders to step up and join us in this effort to ensure a better future for all residents – current and future.”

“Decades of apathy, structural deficiencies and the lack of political cohesion have brought us to this point. Reversing Michigan’s population trend is a bigger challenge than any of us realized. The Council has put a lot of thought, time and effort into crafting a detailed process to tackle our state’s stagnant population,” said Council Chair Ambassador John Rakolta Jr. “The work we’ve been able to accomplish over the last several months has been incredibly insightful and clearly showcases that population decline and its contributing factors are a significant threat to our state’s future prosperity and well-being. Doing nothing is not an option. We put our partisan divisiveness aside to come up with a cohesive strategy that can truly move the needle and grow the population.” 

The Council’s report elaborates on a framework for addressing Michigan’s biggest challenges to ensure the key strategies put forth succeed. This includes conducting an in-depth analysis of the challenges Michigan faces, developing actionable recommendations and ensuring momentum through constructive debate and shared commitment. The first two milestones have been attained and are encompassed in this report. The third will be a critical determinant of long-term success. The three strategies put forth by the Council are an intertwined system that work together to drive healthy growth.

Strategy 1: Build a lifelong education system focused on future-ready skills and competencies to thrive. This includes transforming Michigan’s education system into a well-aligned, accountable and adequately funded lifelong learning system. It also means committing to a Michigan Education Guarantee, which ensures all Michigan students will get the necessary support to graduate with the competencies needed to be successful in their next stage of education and in today’s economy. The Council also recognizes that higher education should be more affordable and accessible so all Michigan residents are afforded the option of attending a post secondary institution if interested. 

Strategy 2: Create a transformative economic growth strategy that establishes Michigan as the Innovation Hub of the Midwest and America’s Scale-Up State. This strategy focuses on supporting entrepreneurs and businesses of any size in growing their business and creating high wage, knowledge-based jobs. Another aspect of the strategy are concentrated regional innovation districts to support the cycle of attracting more talent, which contributes to more knowledge-based business creation and growth, thriving communities and median income growth.

Strategy 3: Create thriving, resilient communities that are magnets for young talent. This includes developing regional well-connected public transit systems that allow residents to get to work, school and amenities. By focusing on the fundamentals including transit, housing and climate-resilient, durable infrastructure, businesses and talent will seek to locate here and drive further investment in thriving communities. The Council recognizes Michigan’s relatively low cost of living and suggests that increasing the housing stock will support the growth and economic mobility of employees and address the lack of desirable housing and availability.

The Council was limited in its ability to complete a full cost and revenue source assessment that is critical for prioritizing and implementing these ideas; however, the report provides the legislature and governor with suggestions for next steps to continue the momentum and implementation of the Council’s efforts.

To view the full report, visit


Brittany Hill