Michigan launches nationwide talent recruitment effort

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks to United Auto Workers members at a rally in Detroit on Sept. 15. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, file)

By Associated Press

October 11, 2023

LANSING—Michigan is launching a $20 million nationwide marketing initiative aimed at boosting the state’s decades-long sluggish population growth by attracting and retaining young talent.

The campaign, which was unveiled Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, will include television, radio and online advertisements in 11 states. It will be the largest state-led talent attraction effort in the US, according to the state’s economic development board.

Whitmer and other state leaders have looked for ways to grow the population after the 2020 census revealed a population increase of only 1.7% over the previous decade. Michigan, the 10th most populous state in the nation, had the 49th slowest rate of population growth since 2000. Only West Virginia’s was slower.

The pace cost Michigan a US House seat in 2021, the sixth time that has happened since 1980.

In June, Whitmer announced the state would create the “Growing Michigan Together” council to come up with policy ideas to jumpstart population growth. The council is also charged with setting a population goal for 2050. The state will spend an initial $59 million on the campaign this year and set aside another $20 million for the ad run.

Labeled the “You Can in Michigan” campaign, the new effort is designed to appeal to young people. Target markets will include large cities, such as New York, San Francisco and Atlanta, with billboards placed near colleges and universities.

Michigan has specifically targeted Republican-led states in the past and the new campaign will be no different, with ads slated to run in Texas and Ohio, among others.

Whitmer, a Democrat, penned an op-ed Monday directed at teachers and titled “Move to a State That Has Your Back.” She specifically called out Florida, Indiana and Texas for passing laws that make teachers’ jobs “impossible.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom used a similar strategy last year when he began running television ads in Florida telling people to “Join Us in California.”

Whitmer and Newsom are seen as two of the Democratic party’s brightest stars who may be positioning themselves for future presidential runs by building national profiles, although they have each said they have no interest in the White House.

READ MORE: Whitmer Signs Legislation to Recruit, Retain Michigan Teachers and Counselors

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