Granholm, Detroit Business Leaders Agree: Health Care Strategy Would Produce Jobs for Southeast Michigan

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

October 15, 2007

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today joined with Southeast Michigan business leaders in applauding a state health care panel's assessment that a shared health care strategy for the region would help make Michigan a leader in the life sciences industry, creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the future.

"Southeast Michigan represents an untapped life sciences economic development bonanza for the entire state of Michigan," Granholm said. "When we all collaborate to leverage the region's considerable life sciences assets, our shared vision will make Southeast Michigan a world-class development zone for biosciences, biotechnologies, the health care industry, and pharmaceutical manufacturing."

The Panel on Medical Education and Research was established by the Detroit Regional Chamber and Detroit Renaissance - in cooperation with Governor Granholm - last May to assess medical education, research capabilities, and indigent health care needs in Southeast Michigan. The 18-member panel, chaired by former Congressman and Michigan Senator Joe Schwarz, included representatives from businesses, universities, state agencies, insurers, and local government.

As part of its work, the panel completed a benchmark study of best practices in other regions of the country - including Baltimore-Washington, Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. The study illustrates how other regions have successfully organized their life sciences development efforts - with a clear emphasis on how medical, education, and research institutions can combine effectively to support growth in this sector.

Full Report Document

Benchmarking Study Document

"This report defines the strengths and the deficiencies in medical education and postgraduate training throughout our state and illustrates the potential for collaboration between venture capitalists and researchers in the life sciences," Schwarz said. "We recognize that greater cooperation between our premier healthcare-providing institutions and academic health care training centers is critical to success."

The panel's recommendations for growing the medical education and research sector in the region include:

- Complete an asset map and economic impact study of the region's life sciences sector - an important first step for leaders such as the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC). The study's results also should be publicized to promote life sciences growth in the region.

- Form a Detroit Regional Health Care Economic Development Council to implement the panel's recommendations - led by the Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit Renaissance, GDHAC, and other critical regional partners.

- Expand opportunities to co-locate life sciences research assets and technology companies through university partnerships. This work could include expanding business accelerators that specialize in the unique needs of the life sciences sector.

- Continue efforts to enhance and promote technology transfer from universities to businesses, recognizing the importance of the process to economic development.

- View health care as a critical economic sector, not just a supplier or product of population growth or demographic shifts, and include it in the region's business leadership structure.

- Develop a strategy to attract venture capitalists to grow business in the sector and provide a portal to access this capital.

- Provide a one-stop shop for centralized health care information that facilitates the growth of the health care industry regionally.

"We know from the results of the study that Michigan's medical, research, and educational institutions play a critical role in restructuring our state's life sciences economy, but we also know that they cannot accomplish their work alone - cooperation among all of the players in the health care industry and units of government in the region are vital to our long-term, collective success," said Richard Blouse, president of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Doug Rothwell, president of Detroit Renaissance, said, "Michigan has made growing the life sciences sector a priority. This report identifies the need for Southeast Michigan to do more to support that effort by developing a regional strategy to grow the life sciences sector. "The report also outlines steps to accomplish this."

The panel also states in its final report that institutions critical to continued success in the Detroit region - such as Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center - need to pursue more partnerships together if health care economic development efforts are expected to thrive in the 21st century.

Further, the panel also called on the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority (DWCHA) to develop a comprehensive, long-range plan for an effective delivery system that meets the health care needs of the region. In addition, the panel embraced new strategies to improve access to primary care in the region, such as supporting efforts to make quality health care coverage affordable and accessible, and to continue to expand the use of primary care nurse practitioners as a way to increase access and improve quality in underserved areas.