Michigan lawmakers are taking big steps to attract a wave of entrepreneurs. New legislation, introduced by Rep. Geoff Hansen (R-Hart), would create Entrepreneurship Renaissance Zones allowing companies with fewer than 100 employees to be exempt from paying real property, personal property and Michigan Business Taxes for five years. Facts indicate that nearly 40 percent of young people would like to start their own business, while another 37 percent believe starting their own business is a possibility.*
Citizens statewide continually face a troubling realization with the collapse of the auto industry: Michigan must diversify its' industrial capabilities in order to recover economically while preventing future catastrophes. Such consequences for Michigan's narrow industrial abilities have resulted in an unemployment rate of more than 15 percent.
Fortunately, Michigan policy makers and entrepreneurs can mirror potential initiatives and reflect action taken by organizations specializing in entrepreneurship. The National Business Incubation Association provides support for advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship by providing thousands of professionals with information, education, advocacy and networking resources. The Kairos Society is an entrepreneurial group uniting America's brightest student entrepreneurs with global business and political leaders with the intent to foster relationships to sustain a globally recognized economy.
Stephen Forrest, Vice President for research at the University of Michigan, argues how action is vital rather than simple discussion. "The idea that the state needs to be more entrepreneurial has to be more than just rhetoric. That message needs to be reinforced not only with words but with actions and money." In true Californian ideology, action has been taken and programs have been initiated encouraging entrepreneurialism.
There is some light for Michigan's future as several regions show signs of increased business start-ups. "In Western Michigan, there were no venture capital funds six years ago," said Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First. "Now there are eight."
Unfortunately, Grand Rapids ranks lower in patent generation and employment within "creative occupations" while falling behind in workforce size, thus hindering the primary source of new ideas. However, many are hoping that Grand Rapids may turn out to be the Chicago of Michigan. Surveys of Michigan business leaders show that the city is an ideal place to start a company because of the quality of life and access to inexpensive workspace.
With support and incentive from the government and business leaders, business start-ups may be the saving grace and independent stimulus Michigan has been looking for.