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Positioned for prosperity

Greater Lansing higher education sector fuels economic growth


The Lansing region’s exceptionally strong higher education sector produces thousands of the highly qualified graduates each year needed by employers. It also serves as an economic and cultural engine that fuels the regional economy and contributes to the high quality of life residents have come to expect.

Michigan State University alone has an estimated $2.47 billion annual impact,” said Tim Daman, President & CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The 21st Century knowledge economy represents an opportunity to move to the top of the class in global competitiveness.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s 2014-2015 Higher Education budget includes a 5.8 percent increase in funding to the state’s universities and a 2 percent increase for community colleges.

“The governor’s budget is especially important in mid-Michigan because of Michigan State University and Lansing Community College,” said Daman. “In addition to enrolling more than 49,000 students, the 47,000 MSU alumni living in Mid-Michigan contributed more than $3 billion to our state’s economy in 2013. Add that to the 20,000 enrolled LCC students and 500,000 LCC alumni and you begin to see why higher education is so important to our region.”

Twelve area universities and colleges are partnering through the Capital Area Higher Education Network to promote lifelong learning in the Lansing metropolitan area and to encourage employers to support professional development of their employees. The partnering schools are: Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, Cornerstone University, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Lansing Community College, Lawrence Tech, Northwood University, Siena Heights University, Spring Arbor University, University of Michigan Flint and Western Michigan University Lansing.

The network is just one way regional businesses, organizations and institutions are building a regional identity with education as a major cornerstone.

Business collaboration. The region’s top educators also collaborate with the business community to offer programs relevant to employers today. When necessary, programs are updated or created to prepare students to become the cornerstone of regional and international businesses in the years to come.

The Jackson Zone in downtown East Lansing represents a partnership with Michigan State University and Jackson National Life Insurance Company. The Zone employs 245 students, many from MSU. The students set their own schedules and work 15-30 hours a week. They get hands-on experience as well as access to Jackson National Life leadership.

“They get a foot in the door at Jackson and could potentially intern there or apply for a full-time job,” said Danielle Robinson, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Jackson National Life. “It’s been a great way for us to share the opportunity for jobs here and let students know they can stay in Michigan and in Lansing if they want to.”

Michigan State University’s Business-CONNECT allows companies access to the university’s resources in four areas:

The MSU BioEconomy Network is tasked with matching the university’s programs, policy, education, commer- cialization and economic analysis and corporate and government collaborations with promoting Michigan’s bioeconomy. These are just two examples of ways MSU serves as a conduit between new talent and the community’s business needs.

Davenport’s Institute for Professional Excellence offers customized collaboration with business partners in identifying their needs and delivering programs to address specified areas in the company. As part of its curriculum, the Maine College of Business at Davenport requires internships to show students how to practically apply their studies, as well as connect them with an area business. If their aspirations are global, international internships are encouraged.

Workforce development. Every day there are more than 65,000 jobs in Michigan waiting for qualified applicants. Greater Lansing universities and colleges are working to develop the skills and talent needed to address this deficit in the state’s workforce.

Lansing Community College’s Business & Community Institute specializes in workforce development. It accesses employers’ needs and creates custom programs to train people to fill those jobs. Training is offered at the college or on-site at the business. While the programs are designed to train employees in specific areas, consulting services are also available to help businesses develop environments based on teamwork, efficiency, communication and use of advanced technology.

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, the largest law school in the country, was founded in Lansing in 1972 by Judge Thomas E. Brennan, then Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. The school is known for producing quality lawyers, but it’s also part of the team preparing professionals for jobs in Michigan’s growing insurance sector. As a result of collaborating with the Lansing Regional Chamber and Olivet College, Cooley launched a Master of Law in Insurance Law program.

Davenport University’s new Lansing campus, located at 200 S. Grand Avenue, features high-tech classrooms and state-of-the-art nursing, technology and science labs. Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered, as well as dual-degree and certificate programs. Central Michigan University East Lansing campus offers classes at its U.S. 127 and Lake Road location, online and at its main campus one hour away in Mt. Pleasant. Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees are offered in East Lansing. Siena Heights University offers bachelor’s degree completion at Lansing Community College.

Great Lakes Christian College, located just west of Lansing in Delta Township, specifically prepares students to be leaders serving in preaching and other ministry-related jobs, as well as public-sector careers.

Regional impact. In 2012, Michigan universities had a $24 billion economic impact on the state. More resources to support higher education in Greater Lansing equals greater economic benefit to the region.

“Higher education is the best investment in ensuring Michigan’s ability to sustain its comeback and now is the time to start investing,” Daman said. “The commitment to our universities and colleges will help pave the way to a more prosperous future for our students and the state. It’s where the smart money belongs.”  


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