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. 5

It wasn’t my intention that these blogs become a "manifesto" for improving our workforce and business procedures, but as I look back on what I’ve already written, I could see how one could interpret them that way. Still, I feel so strongly about what must be done. Overcoming the occasional governmental quagmire, as well as public apathy and a sluggish industry, is and will be the most daunting task any of us have ever undertaken.

I began this all by peering through Alice’s wondrous eyes as I looked into the vastness of the governmental, societal and workplace issues I’d undertaken. What I’ve learned is that, while vast, it is conquerable. The trick is to address the economic problems in this state one step at a time; with patience and with a plan.

We mustn’t fear what is down the next hallway or behind the next door, but we must control, to the extent possible, our own environment and, thus, our own destiny. That means educating our workforce, it means developing a culture of learning and improving and it means making that which should be easy, easy.

We’ve started not by chasing the rabbit down the hole, but by prudently examining which direction we want to travel, and by examining every effort in our journey toward improvement. What looked to me before like Wonderland has come to appear to be an opportunity, more encompassing and potentially rewarding than I could have imagined.

Let me close by urging everyone reading this blog to get involved. Work with local organizations, associations, governmental task forces, civic groups and educational foundations to make your voice heard. Become a part of the solutions for tomorrow; provide the answers to questions we haven’t yet thought to ask. Move yourself, your business, your opportunities and your career forward.

It only works if we are all moving on the path together.