By Histyar Qader | Erbil | (Niqash.org) | – –
After protestors invaded Baghdad’s Green Zone, Iraqi Kurdish politicians fled home. Despite the fact that their absence could paralyse Parliament, they say they won’t be back until certain conditions are met.
After the first set of demonstrations during which protestors made it inside Baghdad’s highly protected Green Zone, where the Iraqi Parliament and various embassies are located, Iraq’s Kurdish politicians decided to withdraw from the capital.
The Iraqi Kurdish MPs, who form one of Iraq’s most significant voting blocks in Parliament, said they wouldn’t return until the Green Zone could be guaranteed safe and the various Shiite Muslim political parties and their associated militias had made peace with one another. Most of the protestors who broke into the Green Zone were supporters of the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and many of them were opposed to other Shiite Muslim parties too, those who seem more interested in maintaining the current balance of power than enacting any real reforms. The situation in Baghdad has become a more dangerous place as the political feuding now appears to be spilling onto the capital’s streets.
During the days when protestors were in the Green Zone, several of the Iraqi Kurdish MPs were harassed and attacked and one was trapped in a government building. The Iraqi Kurdish parties issued a statement together that said, “These events have made us reconsider our participation in the political process in Iraq”.
The Shiite Muslims have monopolized power since 2003 and that’s why we have this situation.
Last weekend protestors once again gained entry to the Green Zone – although this time they were quickly driven out by security forces.
Despite the fact that the Iraqi Kurdish politicians from the semi-autonomous northern region and the federal government in Baghdad have had a lot of problems in the past – around oil, money, borders and security mostly – this is the first time that the Iraqi Kurdish politicians have withdrawn like this.
“The Shiite Muslims have monopolized power since 2003 and that’s why we have ended up in this situation,” a critical Tariq Gardi, a senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Baghdad – his party is the largest Kurdish bloc in Parliament – told NIQASH.
“The Iraqi government never kept the promises it made to the Kurds two years ago when the government was formed,” says Hoshyar Abdullah, an Iraqi Kurdish MP in Baghdad and senior member of the Change movement. “And the power-sharing political system in Iraq has proven to be useless and it has failed.”
“We don’t want to return to Baghdad until the Shiite Muslims have their house in order,” says Ahmed al-Haj Rashid, a senior Iraqi Kurdish MP in Baghdad representing the Kurdish region’s Islamic parties.
At the beginning of May, several senior Iraqi politicians made the trip up to Iraqi Kurdistan to try and convince the Kurdish MPs to return. The first contingent included the Sunni Muslim Speaker of Parliament, Salim al-Jibouri, who was there representing the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. And there have been further visits since.
As the US-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War explained: “The Kurdish parties control a significant proportion of the [Parliament] and have the ability to help determine a quorum as well as advance and dismiss legislation. Their unified walk-out gave the Kurds a new source of leverage … as Iraq’s political process remains paralyzed without their participation”.
On May 16, the Iraqi Kurdish MPs met and formulated a set of demands that would need to be fulfilled before they returned to Baghdad. They say they want to be sure that Baghdad is safe for them. They also want the Iraqi government to maintain the political power sharing system that says that the Kurdish get a certain percentage – 20 percent, in fact – of top jobs.
Iraqi Kurdish allies also got involved in the campaign to persuade the Kurds back to Baghdad. Matthias Mitman, the US Consul General in Erbil, says he called the Kurdish politicians and asked them to return to Parliament.
“The US ambassador in Iraq tried to persuade us too,” Gardi notes. “But I believe the problems here have reached a point where the US can no longer help resolve them. It is just too late.”
With the walk out from Baghdad, there has – once again – been discussion about the Iraqi Kurdish possibly withdrawing from the country. After all if the Iraqi Kurdish are not participating in the government, the argument goes, why are they there? Nobody knows how the Kurdish politicians will figure in a reformed government, if reforms ever go ahead.
Iraqi Kurdish opposition party, the Change movement, has come up with an alternative plan for this that it wants to discuss with the other Kurdish political parties. They have suggested that an Iraqi Kurdish politician simply be given the portfolio for Kurdish affairs, rather than unrelated jobs in other ministries. The plan was widely criticized.
“If the Kurdish people were given the opportunity they would become independent,” suggests Muthana Amin, a senior member of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, who’s also an MP in Baghdad. “They would not opt to stay part of Iraq.”
But the Kurdish certainly cannot declare independence from Iraq without the approval of both regional and international allies. And they cannot turn their backs on the political process in Iraq without resolving at least some of the outstanding problems between themselves and Baghdad.
Ihsan al-Shammari, a politics professor at Baghdad University and head of a local think tank, The Iraqi Centre for Political Thought, told NIQASH that he thinks the Kurdish politicians won’t go back to Parliament without having some of their most important conditions met.
Al-Shammari also points out that two of Iraqi Kurdistan’s major parties, the Political Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, and the Change movement, originally a breakaway of the PUK, have formed a new union – possibly with persuasion from their Iranian allies to whom these two parties are closer. Meanwhile The KDP, the other major party in Iraqi Kurdistan and within the Kurdish alliance in Baghdad, remains on its own.
While some analysts believe this means that half of Iraqi Kurdistan’s representatives will return to Baghdad, al-Shammari thinks that this split within the Kurdish MPs means that they are less likely to return.
Related video added by Juan Cole:
May 27, 2016 by Juan Cole
Filed under Uncategorized
By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
President Obama in Hiroshima gave an anti-war speech.
” But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them. We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. We can stop the spread to new nations and secure deadly material from fanatics.”
Although it is true that Obama has been the least successful president in some time in reducing nuclear stockpiles, there is one area where he has had success in reducing world tensions, and that is with regard to Iran. Moreover, the Iran breakthrough has implications for both nonproliferation and for conventional warfare. A war on Iran was one of the central objectives of the Cheney/ Neoconservative faction in the George W. Bush White House, and had their war of aggression on Iraq not gone sour, the would have likely gone on to Tehran.
The standing War Party in Washington has figured out how to pursue conventional wars of aggression in the face of public skittishness: They simply hype a country they want to plunder as an unconventional threat– i.e. as a country that could have nuclear weapons or even chemical and biological weapons.
It was pure propaganda that Bush’s “brain,” Karl Rove, melded these together as “weapons of mass destruction,” so that they could equate some old canisters of mustard gas to an atomic bomb. Unfortunately for the Bush warmongers, the Baath regime in Iraq had actually destroyed its chemical stockpiles, so they were left empty-handed when it became clear that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program at all.
That is, nuclear proliferation is only one danger. The other is that even the appearance of such proliferation has been turned by the unscrupulous into a casus belli where the “wrong” regime undertakes it. The chain of events unleashed by Bush’s Iraq War killed many more people than did the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“We must change our mindset about war itself to prevent conflict through diplomacy and strive to end conflicts after they’ve begun. To see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition. To define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we build. And perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race.”
Obama’s major breakthrough was to convince Iran, which has never given any evidence of wanting a nuclear weapon (as opposed to the ability to enrich uranium for fuel and to use that ability as a deterrent to foreign aggression) to take steps to reassure the US and the world about its intentions. Most urgently, that required Iran to mothball the heavy water reactor it planned at Arak (the Iranians have concreted in its core), to reduce the number of active centrifuges they are running for enrichment, and to reduce their stockpile of low-enriched uranium of the 19.25% enriched variety (ostensibly produced for their medical reactor, which makes isotopes for treating cancer). Iran has done all of these things as required and in a timely way, and is subject to the sort of regular inspections that make effectively deter cheating (the signatures of highly enriched materials are easily detected and linger for months, and can’t be cleaned up).
Critics of Obama can point to other instances where he was not as successful as in Iran, can point to his long war and failed troop escalation in Afghanistan, his backing for the Saudi attack on Yemen, his fascination with drone-assassination, and the many covert actions he pursues. Even Bill Clinton was less of a war president than Obama. But surely it is possible to praise his instance of successful peace-making even when he hasn’t been universally a peace-maker. Historians will see Obama’s Iran diplomacy as one of the greatest achievements of his presidency, and perhaps as a turning point in anti-proliferation through diplomacy.
Future leaders should take a lesson from Obama; when there is a war you don’t want fought, then resolve the outstanding issue and spike the warmongering. The Military-Industrial Complex is so powerful in both parties that sooner or later they will get a candidate into the White House and a pliable Congress, and they they will want to turn some ramshackle third world piggy bank upside down and shake out its billions into their accounts. The MIC made trillions off the Iraq War.
So anti-proliferation diplomacy is necessary both to deter further stockpiles of nuclear weaponry *and* to remove a pretext for war-making from the War Party in Washington.
With regard to Iran, Obama has probably succeeded in forestalling a US attack on that country, though both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have taken an aggressive posture toward it. And, both will be lobbied by the Netanyahu regime in Israel and by Saudi Arabia to heighten tensions with Tehran.
As we consider the poignant moment when the president of the United States hugged a Hiroshima survivor, and as we mourn our war dead (on a day that was founded as an anti-war commemoration) — including 4,425 killed in Iraq for no good reason– we have reason to treasure the achievements of determined diplomacy in resolving the Iran nuclear issue without more bloodshed and terror from the skies.
TeleSur | – –
Trump initially told reporters he would “love to debate Bernie.”
The Republican nominee flip flopped from his initial openess to debating the democratic socialist senator from Vermont.
Donald Trump announced Friday he will not debate Senator Bernie Sanders because he thinks the Democratic Party will not allow Sanders to win the nomination.
“If you’re in first place, you don’t want to really debate a guy who’s in second place,” said Trump.
Donald Trump had told TV host Jimmy Kimmel he would debate Sanders if the network hosting the event donates the earnings to charity.
“Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher,” said Trump.
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said in a statement that two networks were interested in contributing to charity so that they could host the debate.
“As much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders – and it would be an easy payday – I will wait to debate the first-place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be,” said Trump.
The next primary for the Democratic Party will be held in California on June 7.
Related video added by Juan Cole:
Ma’an News Agency | – –
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah gestures during an interview at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on September 7, 2014 (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
Ramallah (Ma’an) — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah issued a statement Thursday condemning Israel’s illegal practice of destroying Palestinian water infrastructure as “atrocious.”
“Israel uses every means possible to chase Palestinians away from their ancestral land,” Hamdallah said. “Water is life, and if you don’t have water you cannot exist.”
His condemnation comes days after Israel handed out demolition notices for four water wells and agricultural structures in the village of Qusra, south of the city Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.
In a statement from Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to Ma’an on Friday, a spokesperson said that “enforcement measures were taken against the illegal structures in area C,” due to the fact that the wells were built without the required pre-construction permission from the Israeli Civil Administration.
The water wells, which were built with Dutch financial support, were not the first of internationally-funded wells in the occupied Palestinian territory to be under threat of demolition. Last week, Israel threatened to demolish four water tanks in the town of Beit Ummar, close to Hebron, which had been constructed as part of a UN-funded water development program.
In addition to water wells, Israel regularly destroys Palestinians’ homes and structures, many of which have been funded by donor countries. In 2016 alone, Israel destroyed over 600 structures.
The majority of these demolitions, such as the impending demolitions of the wells in Nablus, have been carried out in Area C — under full jurisdiction of the Israeli military — where nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally.
“The destruction of water infrastructure is atrocious; while Palestinians struggle with water shortages, Israeli settlers use scarce water resources to fill up their swimming pools,” said Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications and Media for the Prime Minister.
Dajani called upon donor countries to take action to protect Palestinian farmers from illegal Israeli incursion, since the legal process of taking their cases to Israeli courts can be too expensive and time consuming for Palestinian residents to afford without aid.
While Palestinians are repeatedly subject to demolitions and land seizures in the West Bank, they are also subject to disproportionately low access to vital resources. Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory consume approximately six times the amount of water used by Palestinians; this discrepancy is even greater when considering water used for agricultural purposes.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel uses 86 percent of the water extracted from the Mountain Aquifer, which is a trans-boundary resource that is supposed to be shared between both sides in an equitable and reasonable manner.
In a UN Security Council briefing on Wednesday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov slammed the continued demolitions being carried out in the occupied West Bank, noting that the number of structures that have been demolished or confiscated in 2016 already exceeded the total for all of 2015.
“Although many of the structures that have been demolished are not dwellings,” said Mladenov, “the loss of water wells, solar panels, and animal shelters has impacted the livelihoods of over 2,500 people.”
Related video added by Juan Cole:
May 27, 2016 by Tanner Wooten
Filed under Uncategorized
Maize N Brew spoke with the Top250 OL from Fort Lauderdale about why Michigan made his top 6 and what his plans are to see Ann Arbor.
Kai-Leon Herbert, a four-star OL from American Heritage, spoke to Maize N Brew about his top 6 that he released today via Twitter, and let us know why the Wolverines are high on his list.
Top 6 Schools : Blessings & Opportunities pic.twitter.com/scypE9sFMs— Kai-Leon Herbert (@KHerb17) May 27, 2016
When asked why Michigan was at the top of his list, Herbert said communication was a big reason. "I'm starting to feel wanted by the coaches and they have a lot to offer."
"Coach Drevno stressed the need for O-line. They are making me feel like a priority."
The 6-foot-4 tackle has offers from Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Auburn, and Mississippi State, among others.
American Heritage, where Herbert attends high school, was home to 2016 Michigan signee Nick Eubanks, and the familiarity between the two "helps a lot."
"Having someone I've played with and someone I'm comfortable with is a great thing."
Herbert says he speaks to four or five coaches regularly, and that's another factor making a big difference.
"They show me what my life after football can be." Herbert said. "I am just starting to feel really comfortable and good with Michigan."
Herbert said he plans close in on one school in his recruitment soon, saying, "I am planning for a summer time commitment, but of course I have to feel 110% ready."
He mentioned he plans to visit during June 17th and 18th, and says he will "definitely visit officially."
May 27, 2016 by Lara Galloway
Filed under Uncategorized
Have you ever felt like though you are succeeding in business, you are not doing so well as a mother? This can be a very common issue for mompreneurs, and you are not alone.
As a business owner, you have probably set goals, timelines, and measurable metrics for where you want your business to go in the future. But, unfortunately, many of us don’t often do the same for motherhood.
Women who find success with how their businesses are going oftentimes realize after accomplishing their business dreams that they don’t feel successful with their families. There are so many pieces and dynamics at play when you are both a mother and a business owner. One of the biggest is that it is very easy to get caught up (and carried away) in business. Your business, clients and schedule have needs and demands that are right in front of you demanding your attention. You are always quoting a potential client, building a new sales funnel or keeping your many appointments each day. Your business has its own ways of keeping you accountable—we just don’t have those metrics to keep us accountable in motherhood.
Sometimes, even the best laid plans of “making time” (planning to work until 2pm, then have family time from 2pm-5pm) can be sent completely off the rails unexpectedly. Humans can be tricky. Especially humans of the smaller variety! They are sleepy, hungry, grumpy, or just plain fussy. When you make a plan and can’t stick to it for some reason, it can be very difficult for some of us to bounce back when the plans change unexpectedly. These changes can cause stress and unhappiness and, after a pattern of this, it can be tempting to get frustrated and stop trying to plan. You will find yourself drawn to focus more on your business because it is predictable and you are in control. You just feel happier and more relaxed when you make a plan and stick to it—and that’s generally easier with your business than with your family.
Here are the three things I recommend if you see this becoming a pattern for you:
1. You have to force yourself to put real metrics in place. Because we know that best laid plans don’t always work out; but having some plans and some routine helps. Help your children and family members know what to expect because it will help you have much greater chances of accomplishment.
2. Make a point to always minimize your business or work distractions during your allotted family time. Don’t allow yourself to zone out and just get on the internet or check your email “real quick”. Create a very real boundary between work and family time.
3. Plan ahead for quality time. Sit down, free from stress and distractions, and make a hit list of 5-10 quality activities you can do in just 30 minutes at a time (walk around block, going to open swim, craft time). Put things on your list that make you feel successful as a mom—because that’s what this is about! Now, when a moment comes up where your kids need you, you’ll have a list of activities ready to go and not waste time trying to decide what to do together.
If you can implement just some of these rules and do so with determination, you will feel a huge shift in your ability to “mom” just a little better. You will feel more connected and present in the time that you are spending with your family. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend grabbing my book Moms Mean Business. My co-author Erin and I really dig deep into creating metrics for your business and your family so you feel successful on all fronts.
The post How to Stay True to Your Family Priorities as a Mompreneur appeared first on Mom Biz Coach—Business Coach for Mom Entrepreneurs.
May 27, 2016 by Katie
Filed under Uncategorized
I pick Eddie up from school every single day. A couple days a week he stays late and goes to the after school program so I can can stay late in my classroom. The other three days I brave the dumb school parking lot and get him right after school. Every day I ask him how his day was. Every day we end up chatting during the short, three-mile drive home. His booster seat is in the middle in the back seat with Charlie’s carseat directly behind the driver and Alice’s carseat behind the passenger side. During our chats, I can glance up and see his little face full on in my rear view mirror.
Our conversations range from the mundane to the exceptional. We have talked about both math and God on these drives. But it’s one of our most recent conversation about language that I wanted to share today.
Eddie: Mom today I learned about swear words.
Me: Come again? What?
Eddie: I learned that “shitty” is a swear word. It is, right?
Me: Um. Yeah. It is. May I ask how you learned this?
Eddie: Well. We were in our groups and we were doing word cards and I said the word “city” with and “sh” on the front.
Eddie: Because I got mixed up and thought “ci” sounds like “sh”. But later Mrs. D told me that “city” with an “sh” on the front is actually a swear word and I should probably not say it. So is it? Is “shitty” a swear word?
Me: Uh. Yes. Yes it is.
Eddie: but “shit” is not, right?
Me: Well, yeah. That is a swear word too.
Eddie: Oh. Ok.
We ride along in silence for a couple seconds and then…
Eddie: Who says swear words anyway? I mean, I know we’re not supposed to say them because they are bad, but they are words, so someone must say them, right?
Me: Usually adults. When they are angry.
Eddie: Do you say swear words?
Me: I have. Yes.
Eddie: But they are for adults to say? Because they are bad?
Me: Yeah. They are just not nice. They are pretty ugly and you only say them when your feelings are ugly.
Eddie: Like when your classes don’t listen and you have a bad day?
Me: No….even uglier and angrier and sadder.
Eddie: Like when someone dies? Yeah, I would think death would be shitty.
Me: Yes. Yes it is.
Eddie: Ok mom. I promise not to say it. Not until I am an adult.
The very next day, on the way home.
Me: Yes, Bud?
Eddie: Did you know I am the only kid in first grade who can’t say “fart?”
Me: I doubt that.
Eddie: Well, all of my friends say it. And they laugh when I call it a “toot”.
Me: Why are you guys even talking about that anyway? Bathroom talk is not for school.
Eddie: We talk about it at recess. Not in class. (and I actually looked up in time here to see the massive eye roll you are probably imagining.)
Me: Well what should we do?
Eddie: I should be allowed to say “fart”
Me: But daddy and I don’t think that little kids sound very nice when they use that language.
Eddie: Well I am not a little kid. I’m almost seven AND almost a 2nd grader.
Me: But you have a little brother and sister who are little kids. If you start talking like that, they will do what you do.
Eddie: Do you and dad say the word “fart”?
Me: Yes. But not in front of you guys.
Eddie: Ok. How about I am allowed to use the word “fart” with my friends, but not at home because it’s a “friends word only”.
Me: Huh. Ok. I guess that would be Ok.
When we get home from school, Eddie is allowed to watch Netflix for an hour. Just this week he asked me if he could watch a “not cartoon show”. It’s called Mighty Med.
The show is about these two comic book fans who find this secret entrance into a hospital for superheros. They end up getting jobs there and hilarity ensues. The thing is, the kids are all high school-aged which means they use words like “fart” and “butt” and other things that are not bad (I mean, it’s Disney, after all), but it’s not something I want to hear my four-year-old saying. So since Eddie and I had discussed “fart” as being a “friends only” word, we also talked about how this show is for after school when his younger siblings are not around.
Eddie then asked if this is why he and Charlie and Alice had different profiles on Netflix–to keep their shows separate. And I said, yes. That is exactly why.
I know he feels pretty special being the oldest and having the privilege of using “friends only” words and watching shows that The Littles are not allowed to watch. I feel pretty awesome knowing he feels comfortable enough to talk these things over with me.
Hopefully our lines of communication will always be this open, although I am going to guess he will use the word “shitty” before he’s an adult.
May 27, 2016 by B.Aware
Filed under Uncategorized
May 27, 2016 by Anthony Broome
Filed under Uncategorized
Our first official prediction for how Michigan's 2017 class could look.
Jim Harbaugh and Michigan football are off to a strong start on the recruiting trail for the 2017 cycle so far with some big name recruits already committed and more still on the board.
It is never too early to take a look at how things may finish up, even with signing day still so far away.
So here we go:
Commits are italicized
5* Dylan McCaffrey (Littleton, Colorado)
Running Backs (3)
4* A.J. Dillon (Groton, Massachusetts)
4* O'Maury Samuels (Los Lunas, New Mexico)
3* Kurt Taylor (Covington, Georgia)
3* Chase Lasater (Jacksonville, Florida)
Wide Receivers (2)
5* Donovan Peoples-Jones (Detroit, Michigan)
4* Nico Collins (Pinson, Alabama)
Tight Ends (2)
4* Matt Dotson (Cincinatti, Ohio)
3* Carter Dunaway (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)
Offensive Linemen (5)
5* Isaiah Wilson (Brooklyn, New York)
5* Tedarrell Slaton (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
4* JaRaymond Hall (Oak Park, Michigan)
4* Henry Bainivalu (Seattle, Washington)
4* Cesar Ruiz (Bradenton, Florida)
Defensive End (2)
4* Luiji Vilain (Alexandria, Virginia)
4* Corey Malone-Hatcher (St. Joseph, Michigan)
Defensive Tackle (2)
4* Jay Tufele (South Jordan, Utah)
3* Phillip Paea (Berrien Springs, Michigan
4* Joshua Ross (West Bloomfield, Michigan)
4* Drew Singleton (Paramus, New Jersey)
3* Ben Mason (Sandy Hook, Connecticut)
4* Ambry Thomas (Detroit, Michigan)
4* Alex Perry (Las Vegas, Nevada)
3* Benjamin St-Juste (Montreal, Quebec)
3* Randall Haynie (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
4* Jaylen Kelly Powell (Detroit, Michigan)
4* J'Marick Woods (Florence, Alabama)
So there's the first edition. This class looks like another 24-27 player haul and like last year, it will probably take some attrition to make it work in the end.
Have any questions, comments, concerns or just want to tell me how wrong I will end up being? Sound off in the comments below!
May 27, 2016 by Chantal
Filed under Uncategorized
By Tim Mullahy
Michigan’s been trying to build a startup ecosystem for quite some time. Its efforts are paying off. Today, the region is well on its way to thriving.
Six years ago, the startup ecosystem in Michigan looked very different from how it looks today. At that time, the state had a paltry seven early-stage startups in the first quarter of the year. By Q1 2014, that number skyrocketed to 31. As of 2015, that number has increased to more than 50.
This meteoric growth has been over a decade in the making, and was the result of a concerted effort by state and local leaders who desired, above all else, to lay the groundwork for a thriving startup ecosystem. These efforts have inarguably paid off, notes TechCrunch. The number of venture capital professionals in Michigan increased by 84 percent in five years, while the number of firms increased by around 50 percent.
This becomes truly impressive when you consider that this occurred in the face of a 13% nationwide decline in venture capital manpower.
“I’ve been involved with this since Michigan began its push in late 1999 or early 2000,” Michael Finney, former Michigan Economic Development Corp President and CEO, explained to TechCrunch. “Fast forward 15 years later, and most of the strategies we put in place are things that are really starting to bear fruit.”
“Michigan was a state that had a handful of VCs with maybe three or four firms, and now we have several billion of capital under management,” he continues. “We were not competing in the venture capital space in a real way.”
Thanks to the efforts of Finney and other like-minded individuals, Michigan is now one of the best regions in the nation to found a startup, thanks both to the wide selection of venture capitalists and the state’s overall lower cost of living which, according to venture capitalist Jan Garfinkle, cuts the funding cost of a start up by at least two-thirds.
Michigan’s position as a leader in automotive production makes it an ideal location for tech startups related to transportation or manufacturing. Large businesses certainly see the writing on the wall in this regard. Earlier in May, General Motors announced plans to invest $1 billion in the expansion and renovation of its technical center in Warren, Michigan. It isn’t just businesses in automotives and manufacturing that stand to gain from Michigan’s newfound prominence as a startup hub, mind you.
Internet-based ventures, for example, are thriving in the region, and startups here run the gamut from marketing to food production to golf ball retrieval.
Looking at it now, it’s a little hard to believe that just a few years ago, Michigan was hardly a blip on the radar as far as venture capital was concerned. Today, it’s far more than that; a center for business and entrepreneurship very much on par with New York or San Francisco. Perhaps it’s not the perfect place for every business – but if you take a look, you might find that it’ll be just right for yours.
– Tim Mullahy is the general manager at Liberty Center One. He built a modern 20,000 square foot facility that went from the design board to production in less than six months and is a proud member of Michigan’s startup community.