He’s one tough nerd, and today he joins the ranks of OZY guest editors like Jeff Bridges, Von Miller and Sen. Kamala Harris to share the news that’s on his mind most these days. A Battle Creek native, Michigan’s governor is leveraging his “nerdy” experience as an accountant and former Gateway Computers president and venture capitalist in a bid to turn his 10-million-strong state into a hub for jobs, innovation and talent. The father of three lives by the phrase “relentless positive action” and is passionate about college basketball — particularly involving the Wolverines — outdoor adventure, water skiing and robots.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Policymakers have suggested a number of proposals focused on preventing gun violence as the nation mourns the shooting deaths in Parkland, Florida. When asked at the National Governors Association meeting about this issue, I said we must talk about this polarizing issue in a thoughtful way that leads to tangible action. By finding common ground we can reduce gun violence, protect our children and respect our Second Amendment rights. There is growing support for strengthening background checks and toughening measures that would prevent an unstable person from purchasing guns — one tangible step I hope we all can agree on.
Things are looking up. Optimism about American-made goods is moving in a positive direction, with the National Association of Manufacturers chief saying nearly two-thirds of companies expect to spend more on facilities and equipment, and roughly half plan to hire for new positions. Michigan has long been a production hub, currently leading the nation in new manufacturing jobs, so this is good news for the state. Moreover, the Fed’s meetings from last month reflect confidence that the U.S. economy is set to grow faster than predicted, thanks to global growth and the impact of recent tax cuts.
Nearly 6 million U.S. jobs remain unfilled, often because candidates do not have skills needed for the job. A recent survey of business leaders shows that while there is increasing confidence in the economy, they fear the toll a widening skills gap could have on their firms. We need to make innovative changes in how we prepare people for careers to resolve this skills gap, and we must start at the state level. That’s why I’ve announced the $100 million Marshall Plan for Talent — a transformational strategy for how Michigan develops talent, educates and prepares its workforce.
Know This: President Donald Trump has called the newly released Democratic memo defending government surveillance of his campaign a “BUST.” The U.N. Security Council has unanimously approved a 30-day cease-fire across Syria, where some 500 people have been killed in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta in the last week. And the National Rifle Association has accused a growing list of companies cutting ties with the group of “cowardice.”
Watch This: “You can’t merely wish away the most significant fraud in the history of sport.” — the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations, in a statement preceding today’s International Olympic Committee decision to lift Russia’s Olympic ban, but not allow its independent athletes to carry their flag for today’s Winter Games closing ceremony in South Korea.
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The 2018 Winter Games in South Korea have officially ended. Team USA’s record-breaking 242 American winter Olympians, including 13 from Michigan, took home nine gold, eight silver, and six bronze medals. One of the biggest stories of the games has been the outstanding performance of the American women. Over half of the 23 medals for Team USA were won by women, including five of the nine gold medals and victory for the U.S. women’s hockey team on Thursday. That said, I know we are proud of all of our Olympians. Go USA!
Federal legislation was recently enacted to help protect young athletes from sexual abuse in the wake of the U.S. gymnastics scandal that rocked the country, and especially Michigan. The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act requires amateur athletics governing bodies to report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement within 24 hours. My wife, Sue, and my daughter, Kelsey, have worked hard for Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault, a program now in its fourth year that aims to inform and empower young women and men to talk about the issue.
Women hold only about a quarter of all science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs in the U.S. Many educators and policymakers are working to boost this percentage. I think one of the best ways to attract students to these fields is to expose children to robotics throughout their education. That’s why I’m a big supporter of the FIRST Robotics Competition. This high school program gives students real-world engineering experience, and I’m looking forward to attending the International FIRST Robotics Competition — which will feature several all-women teams — in Detroit this April 25-28.
The next major tech frontier is mobility. Driverless vehicles en masse may still seem far-fetched, but it’s really just our imaginations holding us back. I’m thrilled to see that the U.S. Department of Transportation is hosting a summit on autonomous vehicles next week in Washington. The future of transport is rapidly evolving and converging with technology — just last year, more cars than phones were added to U.S. cellular networks. The key? Getting people to see improvements in safety, opportunity and efficiency that mobility will bring while ensuring training for future jobs related to the technological shift.
My wife and I love taking advantage of #PureMichigan activities, from kayaking in the Upper Peninsula to attending the Cherry Festival in Traverse City or collecting Petoskey stones on the shores of Lake Michigan. Projects like the Gordie Howe International Bridge, connecting Michigan to Canada, and the American Center for Mobility are creating new opportunities for the state. Visitors shouldn’t miss Motor City, which is enjoying a renaissance. Detroit’s rise has been recognized in Lonely Planet, which named it the No. 2 destination worldwide, calling it “America’s most ambitious renovation project.”