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John Austin just completed 16 years of elected service on the Michigan State Board of Education, serving the past 6 years as President. Austin directs the Michigan Economic Center, a center for ideas and network-building to advance Michigan’s economic transformation. He serves as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution and Lectures on the Economy at the University of Michigan.

With the Michigan Economic Center, Austin is spearheading efforts to transform Michigan’s economy, and make Michigan a leader in the coming “Green and Blue” sustainable economy of the future. The Center’s 2017 report “Jobs, Michigan and Leadership in the Economy of Tomorrow” provides a blueprint for how Michigan can create new jobs and businesses in new agriculture, clean energy, smart water, new mobility, health care, and IT solutions—all fast growing, globally pressing areas of work and market opportunity.

In 2015, Austin brought together the state’s business, labor, education, higher education, and bi-partisan legislators to form the Michigan Higher Education Attainment Roundtable (HEART) to implement a new broadly-supported roadmap to reduce higher education cost, help more citizens young and old access a higher education, and put Michigan where it belongs among the best educated states in the country. Austin spearheaded the “Michigan Dream Restored” initiative to develop citizen-informed strategies for better supporting Michigan’s foundational assets that  drive Michigan’s economy: strong education and higher education institutions, improved transportation and communications infrastructure, vital and attractive cities and communities; protection of our lakes, waters and outdoor recreation assets. He also coined the term “Blue Economy” to describe the way our waters, and water innovation contribute to economic growth.,He is also leading a “Growing Michigan’s Blue Economy” Initiative to support stakeholders in leveraging Michigan’s natural water, and water research, education and innovation assets for economic development and new business and job growth.

In 2006, Austin created and directed the “Great Lakes Economic Initiative” for the Brookings Institution, where he authored key Brookings reports that directly shaped the region’s economic development agenda: “The Vital Center: A Federal-State Compact to Renew the Great Lakes Region;” “The Vital Connection: Reclaiming Great Lakes Economic Leadership in the Bi-National Great Lakes Region;” and “Healthy Waters, Strong Economy”. The Initiative led to federal support for Great Lakes clean-up and restoration, in addition to regional understanding and actions to build on our Great Lakes and water resources as an economic asset. Austin’s “Tales of Two Rust Belts” series published for Brookings Institution’s The Avenue updates the economic opportunities and challenges facing the politically important swing states of the Upper Midwest.

Mr. Austin also served, in 2004, as Policy Director for Michigan’s Governor-appointed Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, and was principal author of the Commission’s influential report.

He was the founding Director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan—a $100 million effort by the region’s philanthropies to aid in the area’s economic transformation, and initiated the Global Detroit program to welcome immigrants as a source of economic strength and renewal.

Austin received his Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelor’s from Swarthmore College in Economics & Political Science, with High Honors and Phi Beta Kappa. Mr. Austin has been married 30 years to his wife Terese. They have three children and reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

John Austin just completed 16 years of elected service on the Michigan State Board of Education, serving the past 6 years as President. Austin directs the Michigan Economic Center, a center for ideas and network-building to advance Michigan’s economic transformation. He serves as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution and Lectures on the Economy at the University of Michigan.

With the Michigan Economic Center, Austin is spearheading efforts to transform Michigan’s economy, and make Michigan a leader in the coming “Green and Blue” sustainable economy of the future. The Center’s 2017 report “Jobs, Michigan and Leadership in the Economy of Tomorrow” provides a blueprint for how Michigan can create new jobs and businesses in new agriculture, clean energy, smart water, new mobility, health care, and IT solutions—all fast growing, globally pressing areas of work and market opportunity.

In 2015, Austin brought together the state’s business, labor, education, higher education, and bi-partisan legislators to form the Michigan Higher Education Attainment Roundtable (HEART) to implement a new broadly-supported roadmap to reduce higher education cost, help more citizens young and old access a higher education, and put Michigan where it belongs among the best educated states in the country. Austin spearheaded the “Michigan Dream Restored” initiative to develop citizen-informed strategies for better supporting Michigan’s foundational assets that  drive Michigan’s economy: strong education and higher education institutions, improved transportation and communications infrastructure, vital and attractive cities and communities; protection of our lakes, waters and outdoor recreation assets. He also coined the term “Blue Economy” to describe the way our waters, and water innovation contribute to economic growth.,He is also leading a “Growing Michigan’s Blue Economy” Initiative to support stakeholders in leveraging Michigan’s natural water, and water research, education and innovation assets for economic development and new business and job growth.

In 2006, Austin created and directed the “Great Lakes Economic Initiative” for the Brookings Institution, where he authored key Brookings reports that directly shaped the region’s economic development agenda: “The Vital Center: A Federal-State Compact to Renew the Great Lakes Region;” “The Vital Connection: Reclaiming Great Lakes Economic Leadership in the Bi-National Great Lakes Region;” and “Healthy Waters, Strong Economy”. The Initiative led to federal support for Great Lakes clean-up and restoration, in addition to regional understanding and actions to build on our Great Lakes and water resources as an economic asset. Austin’s “Tales of Two Rust Belts” series published for Brookings Institution’s The Avenue updates the economic opportunities and challenges facing the politically important swing states of the Upper Midwest.

Mr. Austin also served, in 2004, as Policy Director for Michigan’s Governor-appointed Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, and was principal author of the Commission’s influential report.

He was the founding Director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan—a $100 million effort by the region’s philanthropies to aid in the area’s economic transformation, and initiated the Global Detroit program to welcome immigrants as a source of economic strength and renewal.

Austin received his Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelor’s from Swarthmore College in Economics & Political Science, with High Honors and Phi Beta Kappa. Mr. Austin has been married 30 years to his wife Terese. They have three children and reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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