Finding our niche; Michigan can be a destination for health care.

Author:Johnson, Spencer
Position:Transforming Michigan's Economy

Silicon Valley and computer chips. New York and banks. Seattle and airplanes. Orlando and family entertainment. Each locale has developed a powerful brand that distinguishes itself as a destination for its respective offerings. By becoming the "best in class"--and through energetic marketing--these centers have become the backbones of their regional economies.


As Michigan confronts an economic meltdown that has drained jobs, tax revenues and our confidence, it is time for a fresh perspective and a new brand. One strategy is to position Michigan as "The Health Care State." In significant ways, we are already there: health care today is Michigan's largest employer, with more than 500,000 direct jobs and nearly 278,000 indirect and induced jobs.

To maximize health care's economic benefits to Michigan, we must boost our health care "exports." More clearly, we need to offer our health care products and services to more people outside Michigan. In this sense, our challenge is akin to the state's tourism sector. Any resort manager in northern Michigan will tell you they need golfers and skiers from Indiana and Ohio to supplement their resident clientele. The current "Pure Michigan" tourism campaign is directed at this effort.

As a stock market analyst would say, Michigan already has the fundamentals. With adequate support from public and private investments. Michigan's hospitals, medical schools and emerging biotech sector can do even more to turn research into products that generate jobs and economic prosperity.

From a patient perspective, Michigan is home to some of the finest hospitals in the country, as a review of the current Thomson Top 100 Hospitals list confirms. Michigan hospitals have achieved Magnet Status for Nursing and earned the prestigious Baldridge Award. We are home to three world-class medical schools in the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University (which boasts the largest osteopathic medical school in the country and is opening a new West Michigan campus in Grand Rapids). with a fourth school set to open in 2010 at...

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