Blog: Jeff Helminski

Jeff Helminski has some ideas about how to attract young professionals to SE Michigan. He is the Managing Partner of The Moravian Companies, co-founder of the Young Professionals Leadership Council, and the youngest member of the Oakland County Business Roundtable. Go on, click the link. You know you want to read what he has to say.

Jeff Helminski - Post 2: Don't Assume It'll Happen

I have made the very conscious decision to live my life and build my company in Detroit. As I interact with the many people and groups of which I am a part, I often here people say that it (the economy, the political quagmire in Lansing, etc.) will get better eventually; some even put a timeframe on it: after Obama takes office or by the end of 2009. 

These are people I generally consider thoughtful and insightful professionals. And yet they say this without any meaningful analysis of the current state of affairs or identifying a process or even a sequence of events required to address the types of things that need to happen to "fix" Michigan. 

The only explanation I can come up with for this lack of real analysis of the situation is that they don’t want to think about what the alternative would mean for them and the lifestyle they have become accustom to. Thinking about changing careers or moving out of the area can really rain on your parade; so many people simply convince themselves that it is not going to happen. 

Burying our heads in the sand can be very dangerous for us as a region. I have chosen to be here because I believe there is a great future ahead for Michigan, but it isn’t just going to happen. We can’t sit back and let time pass so it can heal all wounds. We must take action; meaningful, thoughtful, coordinated action. That means you, me, our legislators and everyone else.  Reading what others think needs to get done doesn’t bring us any closer to a solution. We must act, individually and collectively. It will take all of us to accomplish this immense and important task. And unfortunately not everyone can or will grab the rope and pull so those of us that do have to pull doubly hard.

What can we, the young professionals (YP’s) of metro Detroit do? How do we become part of the solution? 

It’s a balance between sticking together within groups of ourselves to create a diverse community of connected, supportive, like-minded individuals that can collectively leverage the power and influence of a coordinated group and integrating ourselves into the established power structure. Finding a home within the community of engaged YP’s is relatively easy. If you need help getting connected, start with organizations like Fusion, GLUE, Young Professionals Leadership Council, United Way and the seventy or so other YP focused groups in the area. The more difficult task is getting inserted into the established decision making bodies that govern our communities and set the tone and direction of the institutions that drive our region. 

How do we do that? 

Here is a thought starter for you: Get involved in local, regional or state politics.  Get appointed to your local planning commission, run for County Commissioner, encourage a YP to run for state office and support their campaign, or better yet, run for office yourself.

I believe Detroit is at an inflection point in its history and the decision we make today will determine our future course. When I talk about taking action, I am talking about game-changing action. That doesn’t mean spending three hours on a Saturday morning  serving breakfast at a soup kitchen, which is certainly a laudable action and necessary in our communities, but for those of you that have the skills and abilities to be a game-changer, go do it in whatever way suits you.  Invest the time and make the sustained and consistent commitment to become part of the solution. Just think about where we could take this place if we were in charge!