Michigan’s Potential: Water Leadership

2008-09-28

Despite what you might read about Detroit or Michigan, growing up there is a privilege. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. Some time ago it was filled with the kind of opportunity that you’ll find in Silicon Valley today. Times have changed, however—and with that, opportunity has shifted elsewhere.

I believe that the future of Michigan is leveraged to the creation of opportunities. It’s not rocket science (although rocket science is a nice opportunity in itself). With that in mind, where are these opportunities coming from? They’re coming from all over—with support from government-sponsored groups to new businesses. All the same, I don’t really feel that there is a clear strategy for opportunity creation in the state. Just having more businesses is a net positive, but it doesn’t really differentiate Michigan from North Carolina or Tennessee or any other state with an aggressive economic development council. What Michigan needs is opportunity creation that really makes the best of what makes Michigan the best place on earth. Leverage that privilege.

I’m starting a series of blog posts that will put forth some ideas that might be the beginning of an interesting discussion on opportunity creation.

Here’s the first:

Goal

Establish Michigan as the world’s foremost authority in freshwater.

Why

As you’ve likely read over the last few years, water is tomorrow’s oil crisis (some might argue it’s already a crisis, but in America we tend to overlook our good fortune). Technology is making water desalination possible cheaper, but we’ll never have an abundance of freshwater to serve everyone. Today over one billion people have no access to clean water. The World Bank says that 88% of all diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water. This is a tremendous problem, and a tremendous opportunity.

What

Create a working body of knowledge on freshwater and clean water, with Michigan’s access and knowledge as the primary product. Create a freshwater conference (“The G8 of freshwater”), export engineering and consultation to emerging municipalities who need to solve freshwater issues (China, Africa), and educate the millions of Michigan’s students on the subject and deputize them as the future of freshwater leadership. When people think of antiterrorism security they think of Israel; when they think of freshwater and water crisis solutions they should think Michigan.

Skills required

This is a long term goal, but under the hood there’s opportunity here for a strategic business alliance, marketers, engineers, event planners and educators. Creating this is more of a system rather than one company, but that’s why I think it’s important to put out there as part of an opportunity strategy.