Wayne State Governors and staff tapped to join Growing Michigan Together Council to solve the state’s lagging population growth

Earlier this spring, new reports released by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan and Altarum determined that Michigan lags the nation for population growth, ranking 50th among the U.S. states. 

Within weeks of those reports coming out, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer established the Growing Michigan Together Council, to focus on the state’s concerning population growth. The council is co-chaired by Wayne State University Governor Shirley Stancato and John Rakolta Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. The goal of the council is to develop a strategy to make Michigan more enticing for people to live, by “improving education throughout the state, upgrading and modernizing our transportation and water infrastructure to meet the 21st century needs and continuing Michigan’s economic momentum,” according to a press release on the council. 

Whitmer also announced the appointment of Hilary Doe as Michigan’s chief growth officer, the first position of its kind for not only the state but for the entire country. With her nonprofit leadership and public policy background, Doe will work alongside the Growing Michigan Together Council on its initiatives. The council will submit its findings in a report to Whitmer, the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate in December.  

The council comprises four workgroups — Infrastructure and Place; Jobs, Talent and Economy; PreK-12 Education; and Higher Education — which will gather research, data and recommendations for its report. Members of the workgroups were selected from among hundreds of candidates, based on previous and current professional experiences, volunteerism and philanthropic involvement.  

“I’m thrilled to help lead the Growing Michigan Together Council and build on Governor Whitmer’s work to make Michigan a welcoming state for all,” Stancato said in a press release. “Creating a formal strategy to ensure Michigan creates jobs, students get the greatest benefits from education starting in pre-K, and upgrading our state’s infrastructure for every community will make Michigan a leader in attracting young talent and growing families.” 

In addition to Stancato, four individuals from Wayne State have been tapped to join the Michigan Growing Together Council, including:  

  • Governor Terri Lynn Land, who is co-chairing the Infrastructure and Place workgroup  
  • Emily Thompson, director of economic and community development for the Office of Economic Development, who is serving on the Infrastructure and Place workgroup  
  • Ahmad Ezzeddine, vice president of academic student affairs and global engagement, who is serving on the Jobs, Talent, and Economy workgroup  
  • Governor Bryan C. Barnhill II, who is serving on the Higher Education workgroup 

“Universities are essential partners in Michigan’s effort to develop, retain and attract talent, and Wayne State is uniquely suited for this work,” Thompson says. “Located in the heart of Detroit, Wayne State offers students the chance to live and learn in one of the world’s most exciting cities. The university has made significant investments in our campus and neighborhood over the past 20 years — and both have seen an increased residential population as a result.” 

The Growing Michigan Together Council has already made its presence known at Wayne State. Members of Doe’s team attended this year’s FestiFall event in late August, during which they engaged with hundreds of Wayne State students as part of their direct outreach efforts.  

The council is also hosting an in-person field hearing for the Infrastructure and Place workgroup, from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Wayne State Industry Innovation Center. Wayne State faculty and staff and members of the public are encouraged to attend to learn about the importance of bringing widescale transit to Michigan and placemaking.  

To learn more about the Growing Michigan Together Council, visit growingmichigan.org

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