Blog: Lou Glazer

Here's Post No. 4 from Lou Glazer, the president of Ann Arbor-based Michigan Future Inc., a think-tank that is a resource of ideas for how Michigan can and should reshape its economy. Check back daily for more of Glazer's thoughts.

Post No. 3

There are other more predictable ways research universities boost our economy:

• Forget spin-offs, research universities themselves are major job creators. Higher education is one of the fastest growing areas of long-term, good-paying employment growth. And within higher education, research universities are the most important because they are export-based enterprises. Rather than just selling goods and services to each other, research universities are growing the wealth of the state/region by bringing $ from across the country. In total Michigan universities--mainly the three research universities--bring in more that $1 billion annually of federal funds and employ thousands of knowledge workers.

• Higher education’s importance in preparing talent for a knowledge economy is clear. But it also is one of--if not the--most important assets in retaining and attracting talent.

Our universities--particularly the research universities--are among the few enterprises in the state that attract talent from around the world: students, faculty and researchers. And they are anchors of the kind of neighborhoods that young talent wants to live in: mixed use, high density, walkable, culture and entertainment rich. Those kind of neighborhoods are essential to keeping recent college grads here rather than Chicago, Seattle, etc. It's no accident that such neighborhoods are growing around the University of Michigan and Wayne State.

• Knowledge-based employers are increasingly locating where they find knowledge workers. And that means around research universities. If you want to attract world-class enterprises like Toyota, Google and Pfizer, as Ann Arbor has, it helps a lot to be the home of a world-class research university.

And yet, for some reason, even though in the University of Michigan we have one of the great research universities in the world and in Michigan State and Wayne State two others that rank in the top 100 nationally, Michigan policy makers have never viewed major research universities as a key economic resource. This needs to change!