Sep 11, 2023 - News

Chief growth officer has ideas for Michigan's population

Hilary Doe is the state's new chief growth officer. Photo: Courtesy of MEDC

The Indian Village executive and mom tasked with growing Michigan's population has a familiar story.

Why it matters: Hilary Doe, who grew up in Monroe County and moved to Brooklyn for a decade after graduating from U of M, is the perfect example of the type of person leaders want to figure out how to bring back — and keep from ever leaving the state in the first place.

  • She returned in 2018 to buy a house to raise her kids in Detroit's Indian Village neighborhood. This year, she was tapped by the governor to find the state's answer to its population growth issue.

What she's saying: "I was a walking Pure Michigan commercial the entire time I was out of state," Doe, who has Michigan's outline tattooed on her wrist, tells Axios.

  • After moving back, Doe was president of a software company that does political advocacy and also worked for a progressive think tank.
  • "It felt like a really natural fit when I was approached about leveraging both marketing and branding but also policy work to do whatever it takes to ensure we can grow Michigan's population and grow our economy."

State of play: In her new role under the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Doe says the plan is to use a combination of policy intervention, initiatives and marketing to grow the state's population.

  • She's working with the task force and its work groups to identify more opportunities for putting Michigan's culture and uniqueness on display.
  • She used examples like celebrating Detroit's music, the West Side's history of design and the Traverse City area celebrating its natural beauty and freshwater.
  • "I think that figuring out how we allow our communities to tell their stories is going to make a difference," Doe says. "Each community has challenges they're facing and opportunities they see for themselves."

Yes, but: How is the council's work different from previous efforts to grow the state's population, such as former Gov. Jennifer Granholm's Cool Cities initiative?

  • "The biggest difference to me is the breadth of folks who are involved from a lot of different backgrounds, all the folks that we're talking to across the state and the effort that we're putting into public engagement and listening across the state."
  • She thinks the best shot at having success is by using a "holistic, comprehensive approach."

What's next: The council, which had its first meeting in July, still needs to appoint a Senate Republican as required by the governor's executive order.

  • The body is set to provide a report on its findings by December.
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