|It's Students' Turn to Shape Recovery|
January 31, 2010/Detroit Free Press
It's students' turn to shape recovery
By Carol Cain
Everyone's familiar with the challenges we face in Michigan as we confront a dramatically declining manufacturing economy.
How to replace the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and keep young people here?
We've heard ideas from think tank leaders, politicians, civic foundations and business organizations.
Armen Kabodian thinks it's time to ask those most affected for ideas, so he has launched Motivate Michigan, aimed at students.
Kabodian, vice president of business development at Ciber, an information technology company in Southfield, is working with others on the contest, which is asking for suggestions on improving the state's economic picture.
Those with the top 10 ideas will win money for college tuition.
Ciber is partnering with Comerica, Meijer, Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Exposure Marketing in the contest, which was a year in the making before coming to life this month on the Web.
Motivate Michigan is open to any high school senior or person enrolled in a Michigan college or university. Respondents must be a resident of the state and at least 18 years old.
Students are asked to submit an idea on how to improve Michigan's economy in 500 words or less. There is no cost to apply.
Entries are being accepted at www.MotivateMichigan.org through March 12.
"More than just a contest, we are looking for an idea to transition into new opportunities and possibilities for the state's economy," said Kabodian.
Spurring creative thought
Lots of ideas have come from campuses like Google and Microsoft, "so why shouldn't we look to our college campuses for new economic improvement ideas?" he asked.
Lisa Dancsok, senior vice president of marketing and communications at MEDC, hopes it will spur more young people to think about entrepreneurship.
"It's a wonderful approach to encouraging the creativity and entrepreneurship that will propel Michigan forward," added Meijer spokeswoman Stacie Behler.
A panel will sift through the ideas, and the best will be posted for the public to vote on via the contest's Web site.
The top 10 finishers will split $71,000 in college scholarship money raised so far. (Kabodian is working to reach $100,000.)
The No. 1 idea will receive 40% of the scholarship money raised, with the nine others splitting the rest.
In May, the five students with the most online votes will present their ideas to a panel of judges from sponsoring entities.
A winner will be chosen and that student's idea will be presented to a state leader to evaluate the possibility of transforming it into reality.
"Who knows, maybe the winning idea will help create jobs and opportunities in Michigan so our graduates will have more reason to stay," Kabodian said.
Follow the progress of the Motivate Michigan initiative on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn by going to www.MotivateMichigan.org.