U-M tech conference: Snyder lays out factors for successful innovation in southeast Michigan
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
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."