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Posted on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Gov. Snyder announces new talent matching initiative as business community gathers to honor's Deals of the Year winners

By Ben Freed


Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder talks during's 2012 Deals of the Year awards Friday evening at EMU.

Courtney Sacco I

Related: unveils winners of 2012 Deals of the Year

Washtenaw County’s business community gathered Friday night to look back on a year's accomplishments and look forward to the year ahead.

The coming year will include a new focus for Michigan on education, with Gov. Rick Snyder telling the crowd at's Deals of the Year event that the state will be holding two summits early in 2013.

Aligning education with jobs is crucial, he said. One summit will be for the private sector and one for the education sector, designed to help establish the needs of the business community develop curricula to better meet those needs.

“This isn’t about the government coming up with ideas,” Snyder said.

“It’s about a team. It’s not about me, it’s about us… We need to get these [private and education] sectors together to talk and figure out solutions for the future.”

Nearly 450 local and statewide leaders attended’s Deals of the Year event at Eastern Michigan University, an annual awards ceremony honoring top companies in seven sectors as well as a company and executive of the year.

“All of the honorees and nominees, you’re all winners,” Snyder said in his address to the crowd.

“And there are so many other people here that contributed to that success. That’s critically important also.”

Looking to the future, Snyder said that the biggest problem Michigan faces is one that has yet to be solved by anyone in the state, the country, or the world.

“It’s the simple concept of connecting talent,” he said.

“We need to be talking about talent because our most precious asset isn’t the Great Lakes, it’s the people of Michigan. But we do a terrible job of connecting that talent to the opportunities available.”

As an “old economics guy”, Snyder said he was disappointed that the supply and demand of talent in the state had so much trouble connecting.

When students graduate from universities with the talent to succeed but without the knowledge of where that talent is needed, a talent gap can develop.

The governor said that schools are developing talent well, but aren’t giving students the tools to find career opportunities that match their talent level.

“No one else is doing this right,” Snyder said. “We’re going to put supply and demand together.”

Throughout the night, companies that were able to put supply and demand together effectively were acknowledged for finding new and innovative ways to develop their companies throughout the year. The best of the Deals of the Year were announced in categories that ranged from the nonprofit community to the technology sector.

Major awardees included Bank of Ann Arbor winning Company of the Year, and Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, who was honored as’s Executive of the Year.

In delivering the Company of the Year award, David Parsigian, an attorney with Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, attributed the positive energy in the room to the efforts of Bank of Ann Arbor, including their donations of time and money to over 140 local nonprofits.

“One of their billboards is that non-local bankers think Community High is why we’re all feeling really good,” he said.

“We owe the community high we’re all feeling here tonight in no small part to the great success of our great community bank.”

Accepting his award, Sheridan said he felt the award was truly a community award because everyone in the room has helped make each other’s success possible.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished as a city and as a state,” he said.

“We are one day going to be known as an economic miracle that everyone’s going to want to come and see how the heck we did it. And [we did it] with the people right here in this room.”

Snyder agreed with Sheridan’s assessment of the future. He said that he was convinced that the “Made in Michigan” label was poised to make a comeback and be recognized across the world as a hallmark of excellence.

“Made could be manufactured, but it also means growing things and creating new things and intellectual capital,” he said.

“Coming back to our roots as a place that makes things for the rest of the world is important. Made in Michigan needs to be a brand that if you want the best manufactured, best thought out, best grown product, it’s right here.”

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Tom Todd

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 3:57 p.m. loves them some snyder

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

The headline references a "talent-matching initiative" but I don't see one discussed here. Is it limited at this time to the summits and discussing the problem?


Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

Critical analysis if government is practically non-existent because the media treat every self-congratulatory gathering of the myriad mutual-admiration societies as news.

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

This is great. However, among some, this will seen as a bad thing, simply because Snyder's the one doing it.


Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

It's not just about connecting the two - it's also about making Michigan a state that young people, families, workers want to live in. Michigan doesn't have a big hub city like states that are pulling top talent. We have Detroit, but that's not a huge draw for someone deciding between places like New York, San Francisco, and Detroit. In addition, laws that have made Michigan seem less appealing to specific populations (the anti-gay laws, the funding cut to public education) might pull less people.