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The Lost Children of Michigan

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

By Alan Upchurch

Recently, I watched with pride as my youngest child walked across the stage and received his high school diploma.  It was a special moment for me, my wife Patty, and our son Trevor.  Trevor was diagnosed with autism when he was about 4 years old.  There have been many obstacles along the way, but Trevor has defeated most of them and grown into a bright, engaging, happy young man.

On graduation day, I also thought a lot about his future.  Trevor always tells his Mom and I that he loves the state of Michigan and can’t imagine leaving.  But as Michigan struggles to rebound from years of economic calamity, I wonder if his best opportunities will come elsewhere.  My eldest daughter has already left the state.  She’s in California. Many of her friends are gone, too.  They’re working in Chicago, Atlanta and other cities around the country.  In the last 10 years Michigan has lost nearly 800,000 private sector jobs.  What frightens and angers me is the lack of outrage, and the lack of urgency from government and business leaders throughout the state. They talk a good game. But where is the action.  The candidates for governor are as unimpressive as I have seen in the past 30 years.  Have you heard any of your friends or neighbors talking about the great ideas and leadership skills of these candidates?   People are apathetic and one of the big reasons for their indifference is the uninspiring candidates.

We need a Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild war-torn Europe, because Michigan is losing one battle after another in this economic war.   And now we are losing our children to other states that are better prepared and, apparently, more willing to fight for their economic future.   Cool cities?  How about a cool jobs creation plan that will give young people like my son a reasonable chance at economic success in a state he loves so much.