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 4: What if we did something radical?

In my previous post I suggested a no cost option as a small step towards addressing this issue of attracting and retaining young talent. But what if we really think outside the proverbial box and pretend for a minute we have some funding to play with. What could we do to attract this desired cohort in a direct and meaningful way that would get their attention?

There is a tremendous amount of money from foundations, state and federal government and some philanthropic-minded high net worth individuals and families targeted at community development and job creation, and the attraction & retention of talent fits within that goal. What if we took just a little from each pot and spent it on a direct marketing initiative to attract and then support the most promising young, entrepreneurial talent in the world?

I am thinking of a place, a physical space or a mixed use community with apartments, a business center, a YP community center (we have them for senior citizens and kids why not YP’s?), some form of salary and a student loan forgiveness program like the rural physician loan forgiveness program. There would be seed money to help fund start up costs, a mentoring program and connectivity to established business, community and political leaders to incubate these burgeoning entrepreneurs. 

We would commence a campaign to reach out to the top universities and young entrepreneurs around the world and it would be a competitive process to be admitted to the program. Once in you would have all the support you could ever need to start your business which could be the next Microsoft or Starbucks or Apple. The only catch is you and your company would have to stay in Michigan.

Sound crazy? Probably does. Besides, we like to think it has to be “made here” to be real or worthy. Why look outside of Michigan to recruit the best and brightest in the world. We don’t need them; we already have it here, right? 

It would probably require more cooperation between communities that are better at fighting with each other than working together toward a common goal than we are capable of. After all, it could only be located in one place and we are very good at viewing things as a zero sum game so there would be one winner and everyone else would be a loser, right? 

Maybe not; maybe we are finally at the point where something this radical might actually be able to be pulled off. Hmmm, what if…? Or what if you the reader of my crazy idea have some other radical concept to help us move forward as a state. A big idea or a small but unconventional step in the right direction. 

Think about it. What’s your idea? Let’s find a way to make it happen. Michigan is counting on us.