Detroit Today: Voting reform, public and private investments are transforming Michigan

Emily Gee and Ashleigh Maciolek from the Center for American Progress explain why Michigan is on the precipice of revitalizing its infrastructure.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, Jan. 25, 2023, at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

If you live in Michigan, it may be difficult to realize how much might be changing in our state — some of the changes are happening literally under our feet. 

It’s not just the policies that are passing the state Legislature. Through ballot initiatives, the state has been working to strengthen its small “d” democracy. And with a windfall of new federal dollars, some believe Michigan’s economy could significantly improve in the near future. 

Both of these things have been written about recently in separate reports by the Center for American Progress, a national progressive think tank.

How much of all this is true? How might Michigan’s economy change in the next decade? And how is the state improving its democratic institutions?

Emily Gee and Ashleigh Maciolek from the Center for American Progress joined Detroit Today to answer these questions and more.

Listen: Why great things are happening in Michigan, according to two new reports


Emily Gee is a Senior Vice President of Inclusive Growth at the Center for American Progress. She says after researching President Joe Biden’s industrial policies at a local level in Michigan, she believes new policies will revitalize state infrastructure. 

“We think that this new economic transformation under President Biden’s industrial policy and these three pieces of legislation will really be transformative, but also will revitalize American industry and also think about how we go about building infrastructure in this country,” says Gee.

Ashleigh Maciolek is a research associate in the Structural Reform and Governance department at the Center for American Progress. She says the recent voter proposals passed in 2018 and 2022 that made voting more accessible for Michigan’s population were necessary and swift, thus bringing Black voter registrations rates on par with white voter registration rates.

“One thing that makes Michigan a beacon of democracy change is how quickly some of these changes were implemented,” says Maciolek.

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