May 02, 2011/Crain's Detroit Business
By Sherri Welch
Metro Detroit has accepted a challenge to increase the number of degrees it produces locally over the next three years in a competition with at least 27 other metros around the country.
Launched by Chicago-based CEOs for Cities, the contest puts Southeast Michigan in the running for a $1 million national marketing campaign promoting its focus on a highly educated workforce.
It also brings together disparate local efforts that work on talent development in the region.
“Much more important than winning the prize is building the collaboration among universities, colleges and other organizations” while increasing degree completion, said University of Michigan-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little, who is co-chairing a local steering committee for the contest with Richard Rassel, chairman of Butzel Long PC.
The correlation between educational attainment and the amount of business a company has in an area is indisputable, Rassel said. “This region is going to rise or fall on the educated talent that we can bring to bear.”
CEOs for Cities, a network of businesses, nonprofits and mayors, estimates that increasing the number of people with four-year degrees in the largest 51 metro areas in the U.S. by 1 percentage point would yield $124 billion in personal income.
The Southeast Michigan metro statistical area includes Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, St. Clair and Lapeer counties. As of Friday, 28 of 108 eligible metros had entered the competition. The deadline was Sunday.
Troy-based Kresge Foundation is granting $1 million to help fund the competition, and Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education is contributing $420,000 to administer it.
The Detroit Regional Chamber is the convener behind metro Detroit’s bid. Other members of the steering committee include: Michigan College Access Network, Michigan Economic Development Corp., Detroit Young Professionals, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Wayne State University and other schools, professional groups and nonprofits.
The Michigan College Access Network aims to increase the number of Michigan adults ages 25-64 with degrees or post-secondary credentials to 60 percent by 2025, said Executive Director Brandy Johnson, in an email.
Currently, 35.6 percent of the state’s 5.3 million adults in that age bracket hold at least a two-year degree, compared to the national average of about 38 percent, Johnson said.
“We think the work of the Talent Dividend committee will help us move the needle on our big goal in the short term,” she said.