Blog: Doug Rothwell

Metromode's guest blogger this week is Doug Rothwell, president of Detroit Renaissance. Here's what he has to say about transforming the region's economy.

Post No. 1

We can't predict the future; we can only avoid repeating the mistakes from our past.  If this is true, how does this apply to transforming our region's economy?  

First, we shouldn't try to places all our eggs in just a few baskets.  This strategy has never worked well for our personal investment portfolio and it doesn't work for building economies.  We can't possibly know when or where the next Compuware's, Dominos or Quicken Loans will be formed.  Nor can we predict with accuracy if nanotechnology, life sciences or homeland security will take off in Michigan.  

Second, we know that entrepreneurs create most new jobs and that you can never have enough of them if you hope to have a thriving economy.  We know from our past that it is the process of innovation that leads to new enterprise - think Henry Ford, W.K. Kellogg and S.S. Kresge.  

Third, we know that young talent is the fuel of regional growth - think Seattle, Atlanta and Boston. Young people are attracted to opportunities for growth, innovation and ideas.  If we want to grow, we have to retain and attract young talent.

Finally, investing in technology is important, but most jobs of the future won't come from businesses in the "technology space." They will come from business sectors like financial services, health care and the skilled trades.  And virtually every business of the future is exportable, meaning it no longer has to just serve the local market.  

So where does this leave metro Detroit?  We need to focus less on picking a winning industry sector and spend more on growing programs, facilities and financing to help dramatically grow the number of entrepreneurs of all sectors of the economy.  Where we invest in growing new sectors, we have to invest the resources necessary to give ourselves a reasonable chance for success, not spread ourselves our resources too thin.  Bottom line:  The more ideas we generate, the more success we will have. And the more opportunities for our young people to stay here at home! — Doug Rothwell