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All eyes were on Lansing as Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his seventh State of the State address Jan. 17. In addition to reflecting on some of the outstanding accomplishments that took place in 2016, the Governor’s speech began to look forward into what the future has in store for Michigan.
“I pull no punches when it comes to Michigan, because I know, for a fact, that this is the greatest place to live, work, and grow in America. We have a sense of shared community, purpose, and commitment. This is a place to not just achieve, but also to believe in,” Gov. Snyder said. “Our proven track record shows how far we have come. But our vision, our persistence, and our commitment to our people is what proves just how far we have yet to go. Michigan has come back and now we’re on a clear path toward our future.”
In his speech, Gov. Snyder outlined an accountable model for continuing strong economic growth and attracting new talent to Michigan. Six years of effective reforms has resulted in a Michigan that is much more attractive to new businesses. The state’s economy is stronger than it has been in decades and that means more and better jobs for Michiganders.
In fact, since 2010 almost half a million jobs have been created in Michigan, which translates to roughly 200 news jobs a day for six years. This increase in jobs led to Michigan seeing its lowest unemployment rate in 15 years. While that rate has slightly increased over the last few months, this can be seen as a positive, as it means that more Michiganders are entering the workforce.
The Governor outlined some of the key priorities that will be crucial to continuing the growth of Michigan’s economy while ensuring we have an increased population with skill sets to continue the state’s recent success.
Six years ago, no one could have imagined Detroit competing with Silicon Valley in the technological sector, but now Michigan has become a world leader in mobility — and the rest of the world is beginning to take note.
Through the Planet M campaign, Michigan is positioned to be at the forefront of the automotive industry’s transition into the mobility industry. By signing legislation in December 2016, Gov. Snyder has enabled the expansion of autonomous vehicle testing in Michigan.
These autonomous cars will need a place to be tested, and for that reason the old Willow Run facility will be transforming into the American Center for Mobility. The ACM will be a state-of-the-art vehicle testing facility that is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2017. This will invite technology and vehicle companies from all over the world to come to Michigan to test their vehicles.
“Michigan is leading the way in making cars smarter, making them safer and creating new freedoms for people who are currently unable to operate a vehicle due to physical restrictions,” Gov. Snyder said, “The possibilities for developing new technology are endless.”
The Governor routinely references the fact that when he first took office, people from all over the state wanted to know where they could find a job. Just six years later, Michiganders are now asking how they can find training for the countless available jobs throughout the state. It is for this reason that Gov. Snyder has helped implement many programs aimed at training people to fill these new jobs.
One of those programs, the Skilled Trades Training Fund, provides resources to companies to help them equip individuals with the skills necessary to succeed in high-skill, high-demand careers. The Skilled Trades Training Fund helped to create more than 3,100 new jobs and retain more than 10,000 jobs in 2016 alone.
“Increased investment in community colleges and skilled trades apprenticeship programs will draw students to gaining the skills needed for the careers that will dominate Michigan’s economy in the coming years.” Gov. Snyder said.
Along with focusing on the skilled trades, Gov. Snyder is working to better preparing the state’s youth to enter the future workforce.
The Governor signed legislation to improve pre-third grade reading statewide. By identifying individuals who may be falling behind in terms of literacy, individualized plans can be constructed to ensure that Michigan’s students can read prior to entering the fourth grade. These new guidelines go into effect for the 2017–2018 kindergarten class.
The water crisis in Flint made it clear that Michigan’s statewide infrastructure continues to suffer from decades of under-investment.
To ensure that a tragedy such as this never happens in Michigan again, Gov. Snyder announced the formation of the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission during his January 2016 State of the State address. In December 2016, the commission issued their report which included a menu of different ways in which the state can improve the underfunded infrastructure.
During his address, Gov. Snyder announced his intention to focus on the implementation of an integrated asset management pilot program. This program will improve the coordination between cities, utilities and state government when planning upgrades to existing infrastructure. For example, when a road is torn up to be replaced, sometimes, just months later it’s necessary to tear it up again to install broadband internet or electrical lines. The Governor’s integrated asset management program proposal would encourage different agencies to work together so that when the road is torn up for repairs, the other necessary upgrades can be made at the same time, ultimately improving efficiency and saving taxpayers money.
“I look forward to continuing to pursue reforms with the Legislature that go above and beyond federal standards to help ensure a water quality issue like the one in Flint will never happen again in a Michigan community,” Gov. Snyder said.
Growing our communities
Good communities beget good states, and creating spaces where Michiganders can live, work and play integral to retaining residents and attracting new ones.
In an effort to ensure that every community in Michigan is able to benefit from the state’s economic comeback, and to make sure that every community was part of Michigan’s success Gov. Snyder started the Rising Tide program. Ten communities were identified that would benefit from partnerships with the state. The Governor visited each of these cities on a listening tour to help identify ways that local government could attract and grow business. The ten inaugural Rising Tide communities are scheduled to “graduate” from the program in 2017 and will become mentors to new municipalities identified for partnership.
The program has been tremendously well received and several of the local officials from the 10 inaugural Rising Tide cities attended the State of the State address.
2016 was an exciting year for Michigan, one that brought new opportunities to every region across the state. If the Governor’s outline for 2017 is anything to go off of, 2017 promises to be an even more exceptional year for the Great Lakes State.