By, Mike Shesterkin, Exec. Dir. SMSBF
What is a Prosperous economy?
Prosperous is defined as “successful” and economy has to do with management of resources. In this sense, we define successful as just, equitable, sustainable, democratic, and oriented toward creating triple bottom line – people, planet, profit – value.
With all that is going on – all of the inequities and divisiveness within our body politic – does it strike you as though we have a “successful economy”? If not, what do you think it will take to make a difference? How can we, as business leaders and residents of the State of Michigan, undertake the work of advancing a prosperous, or successful economy?
Overcoming the Nature of the System
Oddly enough, 99.7% of all US businesses are small, or under 500 employees. Yet, when we look to who benefits from much of the business-oriented public policy, we find it is those large corporations that comprise just 0.3% of all businesses. Why is this? It’s because, in this system, aggregated wealth and the corporate state – the insidious relationship between large corporations and the federal government – exercise power that benefits their interests, which are not necessarily the interests of the overwhelming majority of small businesses.
To overcome this reality, and build sustainability and equity into Michigan’s system of economics, necessitates undertaking the difficult work of coming together and, through open, transparent and healthy democratic processes, advance progressive public policies that change the rules of the game.
From Crisis to Opportunity
While the pandemic has certainly become the defining moment of our place in human history, we cannot ride it out thinking things will, or even ought, to return to normal. Not hardly! This moment calls us to intentionally and with great energy work for a better future, a future built on resilience and the capacity to better handle disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past several months, and under the leadership of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), 60 organizations from across the US have been working together to build a vision of what a resilient future looks like. The first product of this work is a paper titled, “State and Local Recommendations for Reopening the Economy”. This document is filled with excellent local and state public policy ideas for advancing a more just, equitable, sustainable, and resilient economy.
Closer to home, SMSBF, with its cross-state partners and through its association with the ASBC, has been working to build a statewide, sustainable business network. Part of this work entailed the formation of a Prosperous Economy Working Group, which is composed of business leaders and others interested in cultivating “…a thriving place to live and do business” in Michigan.
The working group convened for two virtual convenings in May and June. Thereafter, the steering team came-up with a vision statement along with a number of goals for the remainder of 2020.
SMSBF invites business leaders to work with us, our cross-state partners, and the ASBC by joining the Prosperous Economy Working Group; if you’re interested, please let us know by completing this short, on-line application: