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Michigan ad campaign aims to attract workers to state with inclusion, economic opportunity

The $20 million campaign seeks to draw people to the state following years of population stagnation.

By Alyssa Burr - October 13, 2023
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Screenshot of a "You Can in Michigan" video advertisement. (The Michigan Life / YouTube)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is launching its latest initiative to drive population growth in Michigan through a new $20 million national marketing campaign, following years of stagnant population rates.

The campaign, named “You Can in Michigan,” is the largest state talent attraction campaign in the nation, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The campaign will air social media, television and radio advertisements showcasing what life in Michigan looks like.

“We all know Michigan is a welcoming, inclusive state. We offer strong career opportunities for workers and resources for cutting-edge, high-tech industries that will define the future,” said Whitmer at a virtual press conference Oct. 10. “But our growth depends on growing and attracting new talent to the state. That is why we’ve worked hard to invest in the kitchen table issues, passed welcoming policies, so anyone and everyone can make it in Michigan.”

“You Can in Michigan” is meant to complement other state-run campaigns, such as Pure Michigan and Pure Opportunity, said Michelle Grinnell, MEDC senior vice president of marketing and communications.

Ypsilanti-based actor Nando Garza will star in the campaign. In one commercial, he can be seen in various places, including an office, a tech laboratory, a bike trail and a dance floor.

The advertisements will run in 12 states: California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. It will also target more progressive cities like New York, San Francisco, Austin and Washington, D.C.

Additionally, the rollout includes an AI-powered website for potential residents to explore jobs and calculate their cost of living.

Michigan’s population has remained stagnant for years, but state leaders touting the new campaign believe social policies implemented by the Democratic-led government could be a selling point.

In August, the MEDC rolled out social media ads targeting six conservative states: Florida, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Tennessee. The ads celebrate inclusion and promote Michigan as “a state that protects your rights.”

All six of the states have some form of abortion restrictions in place since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. Michigan, on the other hand, enacted legislation removing the state’s 1931 abortion ban from the books earlier this year. Prior to that, the state had also codified protections for LGBTQ Michiganders in state law.

When asked by reporters Tuesday, Whitmer said she’s encouraged by the interest she’s seen following the ad rollout in red states. She specifically mentioned a woman who moved her family to Michigan because of “fundamental rights for her daughter” and a teacher who relocated from Florida because of “all of the attacks that are happening in public education space.”

“I think that being a state that is on the right side of history when it comes to fundamental rights is going to be a real strength for our economy,” Whitmer said.

Michigan officials say they’ve already begun making progress on reversing the trend of population loss and strengthening the overall economy.

In June, Whitmer signed an executive order that created the Michigan Growing Together Council to develop a statewide strategy that would attract new residents and retain current ones.

Hilary Doe, the state’s first chief growth officer and head of the council, said public engagement efforts throughout the state have provided insight into what people look for when determining where to live, such as housing solutions and child care options.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which launched a talent action team earlier this year, has also already filled over 500 new electric vehicle jobs, encouraged 300 local college students to pursue careers in tech development, and awarded 28 Michiganders scholarships to keep engineering talent in the state, according to MEDC CEO Quentin Messer Jr.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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