Blog: Keith W. Cooley

Keith W. Cooley is the director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth. Before that Keith was the COO and then CEO of Focus: HOPE. He is a University of Michigan graduate with degrees in engineering physics and nuclear engineering and founded the school's Minority Engineering Programs Office. Keith will be writing about how Michigan can improve its workforce and business opportunities and environment.

Post No. 4


Driving the economic engine in Michigan is, in some ways, just like driving any other engine. All of the parts must operate in harmony if it is to move forward. The unique opportunity afforded those of us in state government is that we are both a part of the machinery and an agent for removing barriers to forward progress.


It has long been our approach to partner with the business community to break down barriers and eliminate “red tape” in the business process. Some regulation is a good thing as it protects legitimate businesses from unscrupulous practices and protects the public from unskilled or unethical practitioners. Making certain that the regulation is applied evenly and efficiently is our job, but we can’t accomplish our tasks without the continual input of those being regulated, the business community. Input is needed from every regulated business to insure that our procedures closely mirror the processes which work for industry and which they are conversant in using.


Regulation should, for honest businesses, be a friend; easily accessed and implemented. It is a part of the machinery which should converge with the larger engine in adding value and moving forward.


Gaining speed is about innovation, education and determination. As we are able to more fully train and educate our workforce, innovation will increase, and companies will find new ways to utilize new and old skills of their employees. Growing business means accessing the right individuals at the right time to make the right things happen. Everyone in state government, and everyone in private industry, is in the people business. Breaking down the barrier of skills shortages and building the highway to innovation creates a foundation for companies into the future.


These are concepts and programs which must be advanced, which will help Michigan’s business community reconstruct the economic powerhouse for which this state was once known. I wouldn’t have accepted the Governor’s offer if I did not believe that it is necessary, possible and crucial to make this small renaissance happen.