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Posted on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1 p.m.

U-M tech conference: Snyder lays out factors for successful innovation in southeast Michigan

By Ben Freed


Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder lays out his factors for a successful culture of innovation at the North Campus Research Center.

Angela Cesere |

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder attended his first "UnConference" at the University of Michigan North Research Campus Thursday evening. The governor was wrapping up a long day in which he visited businesses across Southeast Michigan. Snyder said that industry was coming back in the state in all forms, and that the conference was just one example of that.

He said he felt right at home among entrepreneurs because he came from a venture capital background.

"I've been a bit occupied being governor for a while now," he said. "But any time I can come back to the home crowd, it's great."

Snyder spoke at the opening of the Entrepreneurs Engage UnConference hosted by the University of Michgian TechTransfer and the Michigan Venture Capital Association. The conference aimed to bring together local entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, government representatives and university personnel to discuss critical issues facing the greater Ann Arbor innovation community.

"When I first came to Michigan in 1997, most of the community didn't even know what a venture fund was," the governor said. "It's taken 15 years to get to where we are now, but the good news is that we're accelerating."

The governor's remarks centered on the five factors that he has identified as indicators of a successful innovative and entrepreneurial region: technology, talent, capital, infrastructure and culture. He boasted that Michigan has the best technology in the world and some of the most talented inventors.

"However, capital has always been a challenge," he said. "It's getting better by light years, but we're still getting there."

Snyder said that the necessary infrastructure is in place in southeast Michigan, but that the most elusive but vitally important ingredient is a culture of being positive and working together as a business community.

"We're not islands, we're one big team," he said. "If we have that fire and passion we're gonna do it. You'll help bring back Michigan, re-invent Michigan and re-invent America."

Some of the initiatives that he claimed were helping to create this culture included the elimination of the Michigan business tax and balancing the state's budget.

"Balancing the budget is a big deal because you're creating an environment of stability," he said.

"A businessperson wants to know what the rules are and that they'll be fairly applied and consistent, with a customer service attitude."

Snyder also said that the recently signed Detroit to Canada bridge deal would boost Ann Arbor as much as Detroit.

"It's a misnomer that the bridge is all about Detroit. It's going to lift the economy of not only southeast Michigan, but the entire state. Companies that are involved in manufacturing or any sort of development will benefit from the increased access," he said.

He added that while he would love to use his executive powers to move a regional transit authority, it's out of his control.

"[Regional transit] requires legislation," he said. "It requires time, dialogue, and compromise. I sincerely hope that we move forward with regional transit. It's a very good thing and we've been talking about for decades."

Ben Freed covers business for Reach him at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Kai Petainen

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.

I may agree and/or disagree with Snyder's political policies, but one thing that I think he should be thanked for, is the work that he did with getting the 2nd bridge in Detroit. That, to me, is not a political decision, but it's the right decision, it's a logical decision, and it will help Canadians and Americans, and those that live in Michigan and Ontario. Congrats Snyder, congrats... you deserve kudos for a job well done with respect to that bridge.

Tom Todd

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

what a joke last thing we need is another bridge who crosses anyway the cost and hassle is like going tehran.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 2:58 a.m.

Contrary to what you state, Mr. Landes, the data you refer to does NOT support your glowing claims. For instance, the "Mi Dashboard" shows that the current year's "monthly total jobs" are 47,000 more than the previous year, or only a 1.2% increase over the previous year's 3,963,000 "monthly total jobs." Most of those 47,000 new jobs are likely in auto-related industries which have thrived since the Obama bailout. In contrast, 400,000 Michigan citizens remain unemployed. Also, the fall in the unemployment rate from 10.6% to 8.5% can not be explained by the miniscule increase in total jobs and must reflect citizens who no longer report being unemployed and unemployed citizens who have left the state. Do not forget that Governor Snyder has also reduced unemployment payments from 26 weeks to 20 weeks, even though extending these benefits would improve the Michigan economy (by way of the multiplier effect).

Stephen Landes

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

For those commenters who want to fight with GOV Snyder it may be a bit inconvenient to check for data before writing. I suggest looking at the Michigan Dashboard for some useful data. Try the following link to the "Talent" dashboard:,4624,7-256-59624---,00.html Jobs are up, percentage of people employed by government versus private sector is down and the unemployment rate is down. The budget is balanced and it has been produced essentially on time giving schools and other units of government the informatin they need to do their own budgeting. If only the data wasn't so inconvenient for the naysayers.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Mr Landes, You are selectively choosing the statistics to make one point. If you look at the BLS data and read the description of how data is collected you will find that the number of employed people decreases while the unemployment rate decreases because the size of the work force is decreasing. If I have an unemployment rate of 10% on my ship and I choose to throw the unemployed overboard I can quickly decrease the unemployment rate. Also, those statistics count a person who works one day as being employed for the month. So the unemployed engineer who greets you at Walmart for $8/hr is now employed, according to the BLS. This is not creating a robust economy.

Tom Todd

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

Blue collar middle class jobs or low paying grey collar jobs?


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

Snyder wants to pull the sate into the modern age by encouraging innovation in business. So far, it is obvious in these posts democrats are against innovation. I guess we are all supposed to be government employees or out of work union members drawing a full paycheck.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

You are not as smart as I am.....


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

When states and cities are run by Democrats, they lack stability and force layoffs because they over hire, over spend and over tax! Thank Goodness we have a non-Democrat running the state! "Balancing the budget is a big deal because you're creating an environment of stability," he said.

Tom Todd

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

We are talking about Washtenaw county not Wayne County.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

Yes, Rick Snyder has balanced the budget by increasing taxes on middle income residents in order to pay for the $1.8 billion of "tax relief" for businesses. In addition, the Governor reduced payments to municipalities and to school districts leading to major layoffs of police, firemen and teachers. After nearly a year-and-a half in office, Governor Snyder has been unable, or, more accurately, unwilling to assist in finding jobs for the remaining 400,000 unemployed citizens of Michigan. Rick Snyder has not sponsored large infrastructure jobs such as road and bridge and upgrading of schools and commercial buildings. These projects are "shovel-ready" and appropriate for the skill levels of many of the unemployed.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Education, cut taxes, education, cut taxes, let's cut taxes, lay off thousands of teachers, and watch jobs go to states that value education and have a better educated work force. Now that the budget is balanced, the are going to cut the personal income tax rate so things like education and public safety will keep going downhill.

Tom Todd

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

slash and burn the middle class.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

I do not like Rick Snyder......


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

This coming from his vast knowledge of how NOT to run a tech company, A.K.A. Gateway 2000.