Several years before the Great Economic Collapse of 2008, Michigan’s economy was already sputtering along in the wake of a struggling auto industry – the state’s main economic engine. When the recession hit in force, Michigan was already a microcosm of the new normal, with high unemployment, a crumbling infrastructure and health care and educational systems in chaos.
Michigan had elected its dynamic first female governor, Jennifer Granholm, in 2002. A forward thinker, Granholm instituted some revolutionary programs in order to try and pull the state out of the ditch and back onto the road to the future, including some unprecedented private-public partnerships and a “No Worker Left Behind” jobs program. In her new book, “A Governor’s Story: The Fight for Jobs and America’s Economic Future,” the former governor outlines the challenges she faced and steps she took to attempt to revitalize Michigan.
What can cash-strapped California learn from Michigan’s example? Can similar programs work in other states? And how much influence can an elected leader have in moving a state’s economy forward?
Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan; author, with her husband, of “A Governor’s Story”
Dan Mulhern, professor in the business and law schools at UC Berkeley; Governor Granholm and he are married