Thriving cities are essential to a state’s prosperity. A flourishing population with a robust talent pipeline helps shape a healthy economy, but Michigan’s population has been shrinking for decades, especially in its efforts to attract young, college-educated tech talent from elsewhere. Our state is now challenged to step up and embrace opportunities to ensure sustainable flourishing of its industries and its people.  

A recent report released by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan found that Michigan has trailed behind other states in population growth for 50 years and this trajectory is projected to continue, if not worsen through 2050. On the heels of this grim news, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer formed a bipartisan, 28-member council to brainstorm strategies to solve the state’s lagging population problem.  

Detroit and Michigan at large have the means, impetus and opportunity to prosper. Detroit, for example, is making its mark as an international center for vehicle mobility and semiconductors; Traverse City promises a unique ecotourism experience and Ann Arbor is stretching itself as an urban hub.  

Michigan boasts vibrant downtowns, historic architecture, bustling hot spots, and with easy access to the Great Lakes, it offers tranquil beaches, miles of hiking trails, scenic parks and so much more.  

A new study by renowned urbanist Richard Florida, entitled “Michigan’s Great Inflection,” identifies and studies regions across North America that are successfully attracting high-tech talent and business, compares them to Michigan and provides recommendations on how the state can become more competitive.  

The study found that our state ranks seventh in the nation for its percentage of college and university graduates who have opted to remain in Michigan; however, the state continues to lose the competition for key talent to other states,  ranking last in the country for attracting educated young people between the ages of 16-26.  

So why is Michigan facing a population crisis? Tonight at 7:30 on “One Detroit,” contributor Zoe Clark talks with Florida about the results from his study, the reasons why Michigan has fallen behind other states in population growth, the need to embrace placemaking as a core strategy, how to attract and retain young residents and international immigrants to Michigan, and how to ensure the state’s long-term prosperity by beefing up and aligning the capabilities of premier businesses, universities and startups. 

Watch the livestream of their extended conversation, “Imagining Michigan’s Future: A Conversation with Richard Florida and Zoe Clark,” at noon tomorrow on Facebook or watch it on demand here.

About Richard Florida:  Richard Florida is the world’s leading urbanist and international best-selling author of “Rise of the Creative Class.” As founder of the Creative Class Group, he advises companies such as BMW, Audi, Starwood Hotels, Facebook, Instagram, Converse and Microsoft, among others. 

He is a pioneering researcher and professor at the University of Toronto, who has also taught at George Mason University and Carnegie Mellon University and served as a visiting professor at Harvard and MIT.  

He is co-founder ofThe Atlantic’s and Bloomberg’s CityLab, the leading publication devoted to cities and urbanism, and serves on the boards of leading real estate, urban innovation and venture capital firms across the globe.  

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. His research provides unique, data-driven insight into the social, economic and demographic factors that drive the 21st century world economy. 

About Zoe Clark: Zoe Clark is Michigan Radio (NPR)’s political director. In this role, she guides coverage of the State Capitol, elections and policy debates. This year, Clark joined DPTV’s live stream coverage of the Mackinac Policy Conference, along with One Detroit contributors Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson.  

Clark’s passion for understanding and explaining politics led Michigan Radio to create her position in 2022. She is the co-host of the radio program and podcast, “It’s Just Politics,” and oversees Michigan Radio’s first nationally distributed podcast, “Believed.” Previously, she was the station’s program director and the executive producer of “Stateside.” She regularly appears on the public television program, “Off the Record,” and offers political analysis on NPR, BBC, PBS and CNN. Clark earned Communication Studies and Political Science degrees from the University of Michigan. 


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