New is the buzzword local leaders love to put in front of whatever they're pushing. So is it any surprise that the state's New Economy Initiative is trumpeting its new leadership, newly appointed executive director Newcombe McNewerson?
OK, his real name is John Austin but his new job basically charges him with developing lots of new jobs centered on innovation in the new economy. The initiative is one of the largest philanthropic initiatives in the country and it focuses on regional economic development to the tune of $100 over eight years. Austin will oversee that piggy bank
"I am excited about the opportunity to help implement the vision of the New Economy Initiative and to organize actions essential to growing and diversifying the southeast Michigan economy," Austin says. "I am particularly eager to help ensure all residents of Detroit and southeast Michigan not only have the skills required to be successful in the emerging economy but also have a hand in creating it."
His resume indicates he's qualified. Master's degree in public administration from Harvard University, check. Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, check. Policy director for the Cherry Commission on doubling higher education attainment, check.
"John brings a wealth of relevant experience and deep knowledge about Southeast Michigan's economy," says Steven K. Hamp, volunteer chair of New Economy Initiative's Governing Council. "With his experience in community planning and economic development, we are confident that John will provide leadership that will help transform southeast Michigan to a more prosperous region."
The initiative focuses on three strategic areas – talent, innovation and culture change – to transform Michigan's traditional brawn-based economy to a brain-based one. Ten large foundations are backing the initiative (founded last spring) and more importantly providing the $100 million.
That money will go toward attracting and retaining skilled workers in Southeast Michigan, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, along with changing the region's culture regarding learning, work and innovation. And if it all works out, maybe they'll find a new word for 'new'.
Source: New Economy Initiative
Writer: Jon Zemke