Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan
This week, I heard a noise that was pretty great. It was the sound of Manistique Papers back in production one year after the company declared bankruptcy. To the workers in that Upper Peninsula town, that is the sound of jobs, and it's a noise that Michigan is hearing more of each day.
Manistique Papers fell on hard times but has come back strong thanks to people coming together and working to set the company back on the right track. That's what I call relentless positive action, and it's the stuff that's fueling Michigan's reinvention.
To be sure, Michigan's challenges continue, as do the country's. Too many people are still looking for jobs, and our state's unemployment rate remains unacceptably high. But we always knew that our challenges would not be solved overnight or in a straight line. And together we are taking the necessary steps to set Michigan on a course toward long-term growth and a brighter future.
The fundamentals for a stronger economy are being put in place, and we have made strong progress even with the occasional setback. Take a look at the numbers. Back in July 2011, Michigan's unemployment rate was 10.6 percent. In the past year, it has dropped to 9 percent. In terms of jobs, total employment in Michigan has risen by 76,000. In that same time period, the number of unemployed in the state fell by 72,000 -- much better than the national pace. In other words, the numbers show that Michigan is truly a comeback state, but we have to do better. "OK" just isn't good enough.
Last week, I announced one way that I'm working to bring more and better jobs to Michigan. At the 2012 Center for Automotive Research summit in Traverse City, I unveiled a bipartisan partnership to give our auto industry a boost. I'm joining together with governors from Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee in working together to share ideas and programs to help the auto industry grow stronger. That's good news for Michigan.
There's another project I'm really excited about that would bring 10,000 construction-related jobs to our state -- the New International Trade Crossing. Building a new bridge to Canada will signal to job creators that Michigan is open for business, helping to strengthen our manufacturing and agricultural industries. And the best part is, the bridge won't cost Michigan taxpayers a thing thanks to an iron-clad agreement with the Canadian government.
Just like we need to make a new connection between Michigan and our neighbor to the north, we need to work on building new connections between talent and opportunities. In Michigan today, there are 80,000 open jobs waiting to be filled, yet talented workers are struggling to find employment. A new online tool known as Pure Michigan Talent Connect offers job seekers the ability to assess their skills, evaluate the return on investment for an education or training program, browse careers and connect with mentors. Check it out at www.MiTalent.org.
It took time and energy for Manistique Papers to come back to life, and it's going to take time and energy to reinvent Michigan. We have talented workers, innovative companies, and a passion that is purely Michigan. Now it's up to us to build the connections we need to move forward.