by Geoff Larcom, Published December 21, 2012
Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin remains strongly optimistic about the economic future of Washtenaw County as the area capitalizes on the complementary career and job training resources of its three institutions of higher education.
"Washtenaw Community College, Eastern Michigan, and the University of Michigan really are a magnet that can attract business and industry to invest in this area..." Martin tells Ann Arbor SPARK in likening the county to other economic success stories in California and North Carolina. "As we work together, I think our universities can produce the talent base that we need to retain and attract new businesses and industry to reinvest in Michigan."
Martin's comments came during a podcast interview with Paul Krutko, President and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, a public-private partnership of business, government and academic institutions working to advance the economy of the Ann Arbor region.
President Martin appeared as part of SPARK'S ongoing "Conversations On Economic Opportunity," featuring key area leaders from those three sectors.
Krutko noted that part of SPARK's mission is to retain talented people in the region. "Do you have any advice for students and job seekers looking for employment in the area?" Krutko asked Martin.
Martin, a professor of accounting who worked in a variety of leadership roles for the Michigan Department of Treasury, said that, we're beginning to see a resurgence in the economy.
"Slowly but surely, it's beginning to come back," she said.
Yet, at the same time, a recent market analysis done for Eastern showed how hypercompetitive the higher education market in southeastern Michigan is for universities seeking enrollment.
"Why is that a good thing for our students?" Martin asks. "It means we really have to offer offer top-notch academic quality in our degree programs in order for us to retain our market share."
The survey identified 183 higher wage occupations, a quarter of which rely on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, an area projected to show 30 percent faster growth than other job areas, Martin notes.
Growth occupations that EMU excels in include social work, public relations, business, the physical sciences and health care. Martin also said that teaching opportunities likely will grow in Michigan because of impending retirements.
Martin said she is pleased that 70 percent of Eastern's undergraduates are studying in majors designated as feeding into higher-wage occupations, along with 72 percent of the University's master's students.
EMU is doing well at producing students that are going to have the opportunity to get a good job and stay in Michigan, Martin said.
Martin, 62, who lived in Lansing and Grand Rapids during previous jobs, says she likes living in Ypsilanti the best.
"What else could you want?" she asks. "You can go to the World Series in downtown Detroit or the opera, you can catch a plane nonstop to pretty much anywhere in the world about 20 minutes from the house, go to Ann Arbor and hang out. ... And then you're living in Ypsilanti in a cool little college town with about 23,000 students, and 20,000 residents ... historic homes.
"I really love living here ... We need to get the word out, because this is the place where Michigan can thrive and grow, in Washtenaw County, and we really have everything."
You can find the podcast at http://www.annarborusa.org/podcasts