At the beginning of PresidentObama’s State of the Union Address on Wednesday night he reminded America about times of hardshipin our nation’s history and that we prevailed because we were united:

“These were times that testedthe courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all ourdivisions and disagreements; our hesitations and our fears; America prevailedbecause we chose to move forward as one nation, and one people.”

This is a time of hardship inour nation. Here in Michigan, I see every day how my loved ones are directly impactedby the automotive industry downturn. I watch helplessly as my family, friends,neighbors and colleagues pack their bags and move out of state for jobopportunities because there are none here. But I remain optimistic. I trulylove this state and I have faith that the people of Michigan will join togetherto rebuild our great state.

On Tuesday I attended GLITR3.0: Innovating for Michigan’s Economic Future hosted by WWJ NewsRadio and the GreatLakes Innovation and Technology Report (GLITR) at Automation Alley.One of the speakers, Michael Harris, provost and vice president for academicaffairs at KetteringUniversity, forecasted that Michigan will rebuild and be known for itstransformation through entrepreneurship and innovation. Another speaker, RandalCharlton, executive director of TechTownat Wayne State University,believes that we will go from being known as a state of tragedy to one oftriumph. These are two powerful messages, but how do we get there?

Harris said there arefive ingredients for Michigan’s future success:

1.      Partnership between industry, government, non-profit and universities

2.      Sharing of exceptional technical and scientific knowledge in order to fostergrowth

3.      Contradictory personnel attributes (we need to be well disciplined yetchallenge the process; we need to fight like a warrior but also be able toaccept failure)

4.      Appropriate and supportive government infrastructure

5.      Availability of financial resources

In the end, it all dependson us. But are Michigan residents, businesses, universities, non-profitorganizations, and government entities ready to work together as partners inrebuilding our state? We have so many valuable resources at our disposal -an abundance of natural resources, some of the best universities in theU.S., a talented workforce, and strong Michigan business brands. It is time tobring all of these resources together and leverage them to breed innovation forour state, whether it be in alternative energy, clean technology, automotive,or any other industry.

The overarching message fromthe president's speech and the GLITR presentations is simple:innovation is key to rebuilding for a better future. It will take time, butI am confident that Michigan will reinvent itself and rise from tragedy totriumph.

— Jennifer Wilt