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Business Leaders For Michigan CEO Doug Rothwell Reports Progress In Turnaround Plan

LANSING (WWJ)  - Michigan is a little more than 30 percent closer to being a top ten state than it was five years ago.

That's the word this week from, Doug Rothwell, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.

"The Turnaround Plan was laid out in 2009 by Business Leaders for Michigan. We're an organization of the top executives of the largest companies in the state," Rothwell explained. "And we released it to really give Michigan a holistic, fact-based strategy of how to become a top 10 state for jobs incomes and healthy economy..."

Rothwell says, thus far, Michigan has followed through on about one-third of that plan.

"It really has, we believe, generated a lot of positive results in terms of gaining 250,000 new jobs in the last few years, seeing incomes go up, population go up for the first time and over a decade, and the overall economy growing like a top ten state during that time."

Rothwell credits those accomplishments to state leaders as well as people out in communities across the state, "And we believe it's partially because a lot of that original turnaround plan has been followed."

Rothwell said they've update the plan this year to reflect the gains made, and also show the work that remains ahead.

Interview: Doug Rothwell on the Michigan Turnaround Plan

"We updated the plan this year in 2014 to reflect the gains we made, but also show the work that remains ahead," he said.

"The plan is organized in three simple steps: What we need to compete in this global economy, things we need to invest in the grow the economy, and how we grow faster than the states that we're competing against."

Going forward, Rothwell says, one of three top proprieties to fix Michigan's roads.

"We think it's time to reinvest and have the infrastructure we need to connect our people and products to these global markets — and that's gonna take new taxes," he said. "We think that it's important for people to let their legislators know that they'll support increased taxes if the roads get fixed right."

Secondly, Rothwell said, Michigan needs to make college more affordable.

"We need more kids with an education beyond high school than ever before, and we're making it more difficult for them by not having the state invest as much in higher education as it did a decade ago," he said. We need to turn that around and let our legislators know that we support that."

Thirdly, Rothwell said, Michigan needs to phase out the Personal Property Tax, which he says gets in the way of business owners investing more in their businesses and creating jobs.

Looking ahead, he said, it will be important to make sure Detroit emerges from bankruptcy on schedule.

Rothwell says Business Leaders for Michigan supports chipping in some state money to help.

"We believe that if that doesn't happen — if the exit from bankruptcy doesn't happen on time — that the redevelopment that's occurring in the city over these last few years could be put at risk," he said. "Because it'll cause uncertainty in the minds of investors, whether Detroit is a good place to continue to invest in."

"If, on the other hand, we get Detroit out of bankruptcy on time, we think the redevelopment we see happening is just going to accelerate, and that's gonna benefit all of Michigan as Michigan benefits from having an improved image and the economy that is generated inside the city."

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