Michigan Business Leaders Say Early Childhood Education Matters to Economic Growth

May 30, 2012, 10:30 ET from W.K. Kellogg Foundation

A hundred business leaders statewide join forces to boost school readiness programs to ensure quality workforce

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich., May 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/-- A coalition of 100 business leaders from across the state is calling for greatly intensified state focus on early childhood education programs and strategy to ensure Michigan's children are prepared to compete in the 21st century global economy. The group, Children's Leadership Council of Michigan, made the announcement today at the Mackinac Policy Conference, where the members urged fellow business leaders and entrepreneurs to commit to support the Michigan Early Childhood Business Plan.

The plan calls on state policymakers and local school officials to:

  • Offer publicly funded preschool to all 4-year-olds who are eligible – Currently, Michigan has slots for only about half of the eligible 4-year olds. Approximately 38,000 4-year-olds are shut out of preschool every year.
  • Strengthen efforts to assure the healthy growth of 0 to 3-year-olds – The first 1,000 days are critical to a child's brain development. Right from birth, children must be raised by parents and other caregivers who have the supports they need to be their children's first and best teachers. To this end, the members support expansion of evidence-based programs for 0 to 3-year-olds and their families, particularly home visiting, for at-risk infants and toddlers.

The Children's Leadership Council of Michigan was founded by 16 business leaders from across the state who believe strongly in the value and necessity of investment in early childhood. It is co-chaired by Doug Luciani, president and CEO, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, and Debbie Dingell, president, d2 Strategies.

"The goal of the council's initiative is to encourage the State of Michigan to act with new commitment to ensure that all Michigan children arrive at school ready to succeed," said Doug Luciani, co-chair of the Children's Leadership Council of Michigan, and president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. "We are calling on the State to offer publicly funded preschool to all 4-year-olds who are eligible and to strengthen efforts to assure the healthy growth of 0 to 3-year-olds."

State business leaders who have signed the council's new Michigan Early Childhood Business Plan include the executives of the Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing regional chambers of commerce, the Small Business Association of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan, executives from a range of banking, accounting and financial institutions, as well as executives from utilities, publishing, legal professions, real estate, health care, manufacturing and other industries.

The Children's Leadership Council of Michigan call-to-action is supported by solid evidence of the importance of early childhood education:

  • Many of Michigan's children are not on this clear path to prosperity. Seven out of 10 fourth graders are not proficient readers.
  • One out of three kindergartners is not fully prepared to learn when entering school.
  • For every $1 invested in high-quality pre-school and evidenced-based early childhood programs, Michigan taxpayers save several dollars in reduced costs for welfare, criminal justice, grade repetition for students and other savings.
  • A high-quality, globally competitive workforce depends on talented learners. The first key marker of student success is grade-school reading proficiency – and grade schoolers become proficient readers if they enter kindergarten healthy and ready to learn.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation hosted a panel discussion at the Mackinac Policy Conference that presented the business case for intensified preschool and other early childhood programs that will turn Michigan into a national leader for school readiness.

"At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we believe that an investment in our children is an investment in our future," said Sterling Speirn, president and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation. "Supporting children from an early age is critically important to creating conditions that prepare children for long-term success and independence."

The full list of business groups and leaders who have endorsed the Michigan Early Childhood Business Plan:

  • Mark Alley, Emergent Bio Solutions
  • Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative
  • Andrew  Appleby, General Sports
  • Jon Asiala, Blue Water Transportation, Inc.
  • Rick Baker, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
  • David Baker Lewis, Lewis & Munday, P.C.
  • James R. Baker, Jr., Nano Bio
  • Glenn P. Barba, Consumers Energy
  • Sandy Baruah, Detroit Regional Chamber
  • Ronald W. Beebe, Euclid Industries, Inc.
  • Allison Beers, Events North
  • Terry L. Beia, Grand Traverse Properties LLC
  • Erin Bemis, Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce
  • Jeff Bergeron, Ernst & Young, Detroit Office
  • Beth Brockman, Wells Fargo
  • Denise Busley, Grand Traverse Pie Company
  • Lew Chamberlin, West Michigan Whitecaps
  • Matt Clayson, Detroit Creative Corridor Center
  • Amy Clickner, Lake Superior Community Partnership
  • Howard  Cohodas
  • Rob Collier, Council of Michigan Foundations
  • James Colman, The Acme Group
  • Carol Conn, Capital Consultants
  • Patricia Convery, Howell Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Melissa  D. Cragg, The Fisher Group
  • Paula Cunningham, Capitol National Bank 
  • Tim Daman, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Mark Davidoff, Deloitte
  • Vernice Davis Anthony, V Anthony & Associates LLC
  • Kellie Dean, Dean Transportation
  • Richard L. Devore, PNC Financial Services Group
  • Fred Dillingham, Livingston County Economic Development Commission
  • Paul R. Dimond, McKinley
  • Debbie Dingell, d2 Strategies
  • Diane Durance, Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest
  • Tim Dutmers, Venturi
  • Scott Eisenberg, Amherst Partners, LLC
  • David  Fischer, The Surburban Collection
  • Phillip Wm. Fisher, The Fisher Group
  • David Foltyn, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
  • Linda D. Forte, Comerica Bank
  • Rob Fowler, Small Business Association of Michigan
  • Matt Friedman, Tanner Friedman
  • Joe Gaglio, Deloitte
  • Alan Gatlin, ETX, Inc.
  • Ralph J. Gerson, Guardian Industries Corp.
  • Allan Gilmour, Wayne State University
  • Alfred R. Glancy III, Unico Investment Group, LLC
  • Larry Good, Corporation For A Skilled Workforce
  • Beverly Hall Burns, Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone P.L.C. 
  • Steve Hamp, Michigan Educational Excellence Foundation
  • Paul Hillegonds, DTE Energy Company
  • Michele Hodges, Troy Chamber of Commerce
  • Gilda Jacobs, Michigan League for Human Services
  • Mike Jandernoa, Bridge Street Capital
  • Sue Jandernoa
  • Mark  Jannott, GreenLeaf Trust
  • Ron  Kitchens, Southwest Michigan First
  • Marie Klopf, iSupplyCon
  • Joe Kostrzewa, Federated Oil & Gas Properties, Inc.
  • Andy  Kotarba, Dewpoint
  • Gordon Krater, Plante Moran
  • Olivia Lagina
  • Don LeDuc, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
  • Fred Leeb, Fred Leeb & Associates, LLC
  • F. Thomas Lewand, Bodman PLC
  • Doug Luciani, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Richard A. Manoogian, Masco Corporation
  • Florine Mark, The WW Group, Inc.
  • Alyssa Martina, Metro Parent Publishing Group
  • Patricia Maryland, St John Providence Health System and Michigan Market Leader, Ascension Health
  • William  Milliken, Former Governor
  • Chandra Moore, coG-studio
  • Leslie Murphy, Murphy Consulting, Inc.
  • Dan Musser III, Grand Hotel
  • Edward O'Keefe, Jr., OKeefe Center - Ltd Emerald Wine Systems
  • David K. Page, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
  • Tom Porter, Trillium Ventures, LLC
  • Phil Power, The Center for Michigan
  • Gary Ran, Telemus Capital Partners LLC
  • Colleen Robar, Women's Caring Program
  • Ken Rogers, Automation Alley
  • Kelly Rossman-McKinney, Truscott Rossman
  • Doug  Rothwell, Business Leaders for Michigan
  • Tim Salisbury, PNC Bank
  • Steward Sandstrom, Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Nancy Schlichting, Henry Ford Health System
  • Bob Skandalaris, Quantum Ventures of Michigan, LLC
  • Bernie Smilovitz, WDIV-TV Detroit
  • Ben Smith, Plante Moran CRESA
  • Brig Sorber, Two Men and a Truck Int.
  • Dennis A. Swan, Sparrow Health System
  • John E. Sztykiel, Spartan Motors Inc.
  • Duane L. Tarnacki, Clark Hill PLC
  • Gail Torreano, AT&T/SBC Michigan - (Retired)
  • Reginald M. Turner, Clark Hill PLC
  • Amanda VanDusen, Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone PLC
  • Carol Walters, Walters & Associates, Inc.
  • Sean Welsh, PNC Financial Services Group
  • Ken Whipple, Korn/Ferry International




SOURCE W.K. Kellogg Foundation