Interview with Doug Rothwell – Economic Development Expert

Doug Rothwell has worked as an executive in the public, private and non-profit sectors having worked for three state Governor’s and two Fortune 500 companies. As President & CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, a business roundtable of the state’s top 75 CEO’s, he has led efforts to make Michigan a top ten state for economic growth through state policy changes and privately-led economic development initiatives. Doug has seen the world of economic development from both the private sector (Executive Director of Worldwide Real Estate for General Motors) and the public sector (President and Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation). He is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges and opportunities facing economic development. I recently had an opportunity to talk with Doug about the practice of economic development, and the challenges facing Midwest states. I knew immediately he would have a valuable perspective to share about Brand America.

  1. Question: How would you articulate Brand America’s promise?

    The opportunity to achieve your aspirational goals.

  2. Question: What are the challenges that Brand America must address to consistently be seen as "walking the talk"?

    Over-regulating, taxing and managing the economy in general and using rhetoric and expressing values that demonize profits, enterprise and business leaders.

  3. Question: What are the traits of Brand America that people around the world are likely to find appealing?

    Entrepreneurial, competitive, class-less, innovative, freedom

  4. Question: What are the different ways Brand America can keep its promise?

    Embracing immigrants, entrepreneurs, risk-takers, innovators and successful enterprises of all sizes.

  5. Question: What is the importance of Brand America in the world?

    America is the one place where anyone can act upon his or her dreams.

  6. Question: Who benefits from a strengthened Brand America?

    Americans most since we benefit from the direct and indirect wealth created by successful enterprises. But the entire world benefits by stimulating competition and raising expectations about what people and society can achieve.

  7. Question: Do you believe Brand America has a relevant, competitive and authentic promise?

    Yes, mostly and maybe. The promise is real and compelling. But our competitiveness, while above average, could improve and the promise gets tarnished by anti-business policies and practices.

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