1. Invest substantially in targeted initiatives at the University of Michigan, and in programs that encourage the state’s best students to attend. Michigan is one of the nation’s truly great universities, public or private. It has superb programs in biomedicine and in engineering. It is a huge attractor of out-of-state funding—a highly successful multi-billion-dollar business. And, like all great universities, its most important output is educated and entrepreneurial young people.
2. Invest in jobs that create other jobs. Policymakers don’t seem to understand the leverage that tech provides. It’s the same here in the State of Washington—they’ll move heaven and earth to keep a sheet metal bender from leaving Tukwila, but when it comes to attracting Intel Labs or Google, we’re pretty much on our own. Jobs are not created by big businesses or by small businesses—they’re created by new businesses and by expanding businesses. Fight to attract startups, and to create them. Don’t be held hostage by incumbents.
3. Seize competitive advantages. Software. Biotech and life sciences. The integration of software with advanced manufacturing. And innovative leaders who think out of the box, like Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally (a former Boeing executive from Washington state. You’re welcome, Michigan!).
4. Hold candidates for public office responsible for appropriate approaches to education and economic development. Once elected, hold them responsible for walking their talk.
5. Root for the Red Wings (the Tigers are going nowhere).
[Editor’s note: To help launch Xconomy Detroit, we’ve queried our network of Xconomists and other innovation leaders around the country for their list of the most important things that entrepreneurs and innovators in Michigan can do to reinvigorate their regional economy.]
Ed Lazowska holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where he also serves as the founding director of the University of Washington eScience Institute. His research and teaching concern the design, implementation, and analysis of high performance computing and communication systems, and the techniques and technologies of data-intensive discovery.