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West Michigan’s economy depends on…

Steven Depolo
Creative Commons

West Michigan’s economy depends on turning around Detroit, an educated workforce and a better attitude. That’s the conclusion from leaders who took part in a community forum in Grand Rapids Wednesday night. The group included non-profit, business and government leaders.

More than anything, the group says people in Michigan need to adopt a more positive attitude.

Birgit Klohs heads The Right Place. She works to attract businesses and workers to West Michigan.

“If we don’t believe in ourselves, there’s no way I can convince a talented person to move here, or a company to move here or stay here.”

Klohs expects West Michigan will have major opportunities in medical science, energy, food processing and advanced manufacturing in the next 20 to 30 years. But in order to get there, massive amounts of unskilled workers need retraining. Young people need opportunities to move up. Plus, they say the community needs to be more accepting of diversity so businesses can attract and keep talented workers from different backgrounds.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.