East Lansing, Mich.— Many candidates running for the state Legislature this election hope to shift policies toward job growth and college attainment in an effort to improve the local and regional economy.
Michigan ranks No. 30 in best states for business and No. 43 for growth prospects according to Forbes, which is a 12 spot leap from last year’s rank in best states for business.
Casey O’Neill, the Republican candidate for 76th District State Representative, has a campaign platform centered on job creation and job growth. His campaign manager, Jim Bebarski, has heavily influenced O’Neill’s platform in shifting the focus from education to job creation and keeping the prosperity flowing into the state.
“We have seen great accomplishments…but there is still much to do,” said Bebarski. “We really have to shift our focus around business, and how to keep profiting businesses in the state, which would mean bringing more people to the state with jobs.”
Michigan currently ranks second highest in the country for net migration out of the state. This means that people who live in the state often leave in hopes of finding a better job. This ranking has remained constant since 2014.
“It’s really important to focus on the fact that we have steadily been cutting the unemployment rate, but another crucial component of the current economic state of Michigan is that we do not retain a lot of the college graduates that attend our state universities,” said Bebarski.
“We have so much opportunity for growth, especially with a state our size and many resources readily available within the state,” said Bebarski. “However the current office holders have done a poor job at looking at sustainability as our state’s economic outlook is not strong over the next few years and that directly reflects our state government’s inability to look at the long run.”
Bebarski and O’Neill both hope to create a sustainable economy by passing business-friendly policies and collaborating with LEAP to help increase investment in the region.
Michigan’s unemployment rate as of April 2015 was at 5.4 percent, but recent data has revealed that unemployment has gone down by 1.2 percentage points to 4.6 percent in September 2016, with the national unemployment rate staying consistent at 5 percent from last year.
Only 27.3 percent of college graduates stay in state working for local business or corporations based in Michigan, according to Detroit News. Michigan State University advertising senior Eric Iskols looks to start full-time employment in New York City come May.
“When I was applying for marketing jobs my senior year it was about the location, affordability of living, and job availability,” said Iskols. “I never really thought to stay in state because there weren’t any companies that fit the profile I was looking for… For New York City, it had everything, social aspect of being in the big apple, great paying jobs, a lot more housing located minutes away from where I wanted to work.”
Iskols was looking for a better starting salary when applying to jobs and found that at Madison Square Garden, where he will begin working in May for its advertising and marketing group.
Zach Bischel works for the state legislative office as a policy associate in Lansing and recently went on a Republican campaign trail that started in Grand Rapids and ended in Detroit. Bischel has been working for the legislative office for over three years.
“I think most of the attendees would leave saying they felt confident in our ability to not only continue our success in lowering unemployment in the state but also our preparedness to turn Michigan into an economic booming state where we retain a lot of the college graduates and bring big business back to the motor city,” said Bischel.