Jun 2, 2023 - Politics

Whitmer announces task force for Michigan's population growth

Gov. Whitmer on the porch of the Grand Hotel

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on the porch of the Grand Hotel. Co-chairs of the new Growing Michigan Together Council, Shirley Stancato and John Rakolta Jr., stand behind the governor to the right. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

A bipartisan commission will develop a statewide strategy to grow the state's lagging population, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced at the Mackinac Policy Conference Thursday.

Driving the news: The governor signed an executive order Thursday to establish the Growing Michigan Together Council, which will identify a population goal for 2050 and advise the governor on policies to grow the state.

  • She also announced the creation of a statewide role during her keynote presentation: chief growth officer.
  • The state hired Hilary Doe, a Michigan native who lived in Brooklyn for a decade before moving to Detroit, to fill the role.

What they're saying: "It's time for a growth strategy led by leaders and experts focused on our collective goals rather than personal, political or partisan agenda," Whitmer said.

  • "I felt like I needed to go someplace else outside of Michigan to be the professional that I dreamed of," Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who moved to the West Coast to pursue a career in software, said at a press conference. "We want people coming up in Michigan schools to know they have a future here."

Zoom in: The council will be made up of 28 members, 21 voting and seven non-voting. In addition to the bipartisan co-chairs, voting members will be members of the Michigan House and Senate, plus the director of the state's Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

  • It will be co-chaired by Shirley Stancato, a Democrat who sits on the Wayne State board of governors, and John Rakolta Jr., a Republican who was former President Trump's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

Yes, but: Just one of the 28 appointees to grow the state's population will be younger than 25.

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