THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
15th April, 2010 0
For a majority of Americans, contemporary politics is often equated with greed and cynicism. Recent polls show that 47% of Americans classify themselves as Independents rather than Republicans or Democrats; and a huge portion of the health care debate came down to the fact, which stuck out like a sore thumb, that elected legislators would not be partaking within the same coverage plans they were asking the rest of the citizenry to sign up for.
Rather than surrender to apathy, Matt de Heus is striving to creatively change the way people look at, engage, and react to politics on all levels of the playing field. A seasoned executive with broad experience in the private & public sectors, his propensity as a growth catalyst is documented by a track record of success in highly competitive global marketplaces, and he has demonstrated himself as an intuitive strategist adept at evaluating and capturing new opportunities.
This is something he is actively cultivating by forming the Green Party of Bay County to tackle what he perceives as systemic failures by the two major political parties; while also pro-actively addressing issues of unemployment and job creation by forming Freewill Enterprises, an effort geared to assisting potential entrepreneurs in starting and running their own businesses.
Since 2007 Matt has served as a professor of chemical processing technology at Delta College and developed new course offerings in alternative energy and sustainable manufacturing practices, focusing on waste minimization, productivity improvement, advanced batteries, solar and biofuel technologies.
He has navigated several successful business start-ups prior to this as president and CEO of Zovida, Inc., a veterinary medical products company; and prior that worked as Director of International Business Development at FOSESCO International in Tamworth, England from 1999-2004, which was a $400 million foundry consumables supplier with a 65% global market share and a subsidiary of Castrol/British Petroleum.
His consulting works have resulted in the creation of at least 3000 American jobs, so unlike most politicians that pay a lot of lip service to the topic, Matt is one man that actually knows what is involved with expanding businesses, creating jobs, and creating a sane energy policy for our future.
Additionally, Matt is involved with Michigan Greenhouses, which will acquire and rehabilitate both residential and commercial real estate with a focus on maintaining the character of the surrounding community through reclaiming deteriorating buildings by using more efficient ‘green’ and ‘alternative’ technologies in any renovations, especially those produced by local manufacturing businesses.
Both Freewill Enterprises and Michigan Greenhouses are part of a larger entity formed by Matt entitled A Little Rope, which is a non-profit Michigan corporation founded to undertake projects to improve the lives of the residents of the greater Bay area.
As Matt explains it, “While our action and focus will be on local needs, we believe many of these issues actually represent a local symptom of a growing national crisis. And as grand as that sounds, we are really talking about little stuff – like throwing someone a bit of rope if they are about to fall, or just hauling their recycling bins back up the driveway when you know the neighbors are out of town.”
“The idea is to help people on the unemployment rolls or forgotten to start their own business,” he continues. “I’ve started 7 businesses of my own and handled mergers and acquisitions on a corporate level and think we need a bit more of that around here.”
“I don’t want to be rich a consultant doing this because I can do it damn near for free, but I do want to see people not getting a fair shake do something and get engaged within their community. And if you already own a business, give me an idea of what is going on and I can offer you low cost consulting and give you some ideas on how to jump start your business.”
With hundreds of billions of dollars from the so-called ‘economic stimulus’ package going to simply extend unemployment benefits, creating very little incentive to engage in working productive activity in the process, what will happen once those benefits stop? Will any more jobs have been created or was it merely an expensive route of artificial life support?
“One of the things I saw on paper was one of those wonderful Granholm jobs programs that was going to place $200,000 into job training and $43 million in loans to start new businesses and it needs to be the reverse. The most effective businesses are started with other peoples’ money, not the governments.”
When asked to amplify his background, Matt notes how he grew up in Oscoda and spent some time in Ann Arbor before moving to England as an Executive for companies like Castrol BP. “I started as an engineer and spent some 20 years in plant management moving to executive management and when the topics turned to what plants we were going to close, I got turned off by the amount of money these guys were rolling out at that level of the game. It made me ill to have to go back to a policy implementation to make cuts that cost less than the impact of the cost being spent on the meetings I was attending.”
“I ended up back in Bay City and started doing consulting and business brokering,” continues Matt, “and then found that Delta College had this Chemical processing program. I’d been teaching since my 20s, so signed on to teach chemical processing and compared to other jobs I’ve had, the results have been significant and meaningful.”
“I could make $10 million on a spreadsheet but that meant nothing compared to taking a high school kid and 19 months later turning him into a little man with a paycheck and a cool truck and a girlfriend. It felt good, so my energies stating turning to how I could do more of that and rebuild what I feel is a vibrant community.”
ENTER THE GREENS – MAKING A DIFFERENCE –
Building a Policy Upon Logic & Consistency
In terms of his efforts with building Bay County’s Green Party, Matt feels it is a natural extension of his desire to create a visible impact within the community as well as the state of Michigan.
“I’ve always been a Liberal and the main party choice for liberals has always been the Democratic Party, only I’ve never seen them do very much,” states Matt. “For me the Green Party is saying something and Ralph Nader has been somewhat of a role model for me”
“From the standpoint of the Green Party, if we run candidates and support candidates at local levels, those messages will start to resonate in the community. It isn’t necessarily about winning elections, but forcing other candidates to address these issues.”
“First of all, we need a local energy policy, period,” emphasizes Matt. “The issue isn’t simply about whether we are going to build a coal plant in Bay County that we don’t need, but about what we are going to do for the next 50 years to assure that manufacturing plants site here and people can afford their residential utilities. In short, this state needs an energy policy.”
“When I hear people say we could expand the current coal plant and get 10 more years out of it, or whether they want to build a new one, I don’t get it because this is a two generation investment, especially the way they’ve laid it out, which bothers me for a number of reasons,” states Matt.
WHY THE PROPOSSED KARN WEADOCK PLANT IS DOOMED TO FAIL
“In terms of a new project: We could build now and employ a whole load of welders and other specialized labor. But the results of our efforts would be a comparatively inefficient plant and high-energy costs that quickly begin to impact our region’s ability to compete. Add in the dirty little secret of climbing extraction costs for the fuel and our newly employed workers just might find they are building their own gallows. Bay County’s “bridge to nowhere,” if you will. Complete with a free boat anchor for everyone who worked on it.”
“This area has no lack of skilled and motivated people that would really covet an opportunity to become part of a recovery with a new job and a brighter future. The problem is we don’t need the type of economic blip that would accompany any massive investment in an aging technology. There are simply better ways to generate electricity available right now. And the lower prices for energy that would quickly follow would make this an easier place to live and an easier place to site a new manufacturing business. There is long-term benefit to an investment in better technology.”
“If we build it the first drop of electricity is going to be way too expensive, not just for us but for anybody to site a manufacturing operation close to it. Second, the jobs it creates are going to be real but very temporary; and finally, there are 25 ways we can come to reduce output capacity, which brings into question leadership. If this is our most exciting energy opportunity out there, it doesn’t sound like well hanging fruit,”
“Again, its about a lack of policy and the state legislature has been very ineffective on developing one, which is part of the reason we have the economic problems that we do. Secondly, a big part of the problem is that we have a limited playing field with DTE and Consumers directing the show. Money plays a huge factor in these things.”
“Consumers Energy sent a survey out asking whether people would want to pay extra each month to have wind and sun power and not many people responded so they claim there is not interest. What they should be doing is ramping up their Research & Development and scaling up their costs, but they don’t want this to succeed.”
CONSTRUCTING A SANE ENERGY POLICY AND FUTURE
So what does Matt feel it would take to create a sane energy policy?
“First, we need a mixed solution and to start weaning down from this combustion based economy. Fossil fuels are a big mess just because of the money interests and amount of speculation involved going into it that disenfranchises stronger business opportunities.”
“Agriculture is our second biggest business,” he continues, “so let’s imagine for a moment that we had legalized industrialized hemp and were able to make biofuels, clothing and fabric. This could be a boom to us, apart from recreation and medicine. Politicians are attacking it from the wrong end and need to start viewing it as a cash crop that can be used to redesign houses and advance geothermal power.”
Because the Green Party holds a sane energy policy and ties it in with job creation and retention, he feels the Party has great potential for success in November. “By the end of July 500,000 people will have expired unemployment benefits and shortly after that 7-8 percent more people will not be in the system because it won’t be factored into the rolls, so when they say 15 percent unemployment, it will be closer to 30. Very few people are working right now to support everybody else, which is a major problem.”
“If we can develop peoples abilities at entrepreneurship and get these green businesses going, I view real opportunity to bring some of our neighborhoods back,” concludes Matt.
“Major energy interests have no interest in getting new technologies on the market, but they can be beat by people taking individual actions like making their homes more efficient, starting jobs out of their homes, finding available tax credits to foster individual growth of green business, and working through other groups and agencies locally.”
“Meanwhile, we need candidates to run against the major parties and I’m going to work organizing the Green Party in Bay County and in an Advisory capacity with the State Party. Our caucuses happen in August so there is still time to file and register to run for offices.
“We hold monthly meetings, so people should definitely contact us.”
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)