2017 Michigan State of the State Transcript
Gov. Rick Snyder
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 - 7 PM
Thank you, well thank you so much. Thank you for that wonderful opportunity to enter. Please take your seats. It is a very exciting evening and thank you for the honor to join you and share with our citizens of our state. Lt. Governor Brian Calley, Speaker Tom Leonard, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, I think you are over this way Jim, right? House Minority Leader Sam Singh, members of the Supreme Court, Members of the Court of the Appeals, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Attorney General Bill Schuette, members of Congress, we have a number of congressmen with us tonight, Counsel Generals of Canada and Israel, my cabinet, ladies and gentlemen of the Legislature, fellow public servants and citizens in Michigan and my family, thank you for the opportunity to share with you tonight; it is an exciting evening.
First of all, I want to start by thanking the outgoing legislators, we had so many great public servants that served in this body, both the House and the Senate in terms of good service. I want to thank you for that outstanding service. I also want to welcome the new House members, so many new members and one new Senate member. Welcome to this august group and I look forward to having a great partnership with you.
Special welcome to the military members that we have here today, in fact I have a special recognition that I would like to talk about, two groups in particular and I would ask you for a huge round of applause for them. We have wonderful things going on both with the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard. To begin with from the Michigan Air National Guard from the 127th Wing, which those of you who aren’t familiar, is at Selfridge and flies the A10 attack aircraft and the 120, excuse me the K-C 135 tankers. They had special honors this year, they represent the best of Michigan. This year in fact they won the Carl A. Spaatz award denoting the Top National Guard Flying Unit in the entire nation. Right up there. In September, they also won a meritorious unit service award for performance in the support of combat operations, they were deployed and they won a second award. Representing them we have Lieutenant Paige Campbell and Senior Master Sergeant Eric Bates in the gallery tonight, so we are honored to have them with us.
Now, we also have the Army National Guard to be proud of, and we also have two representatives from the Army National Guard and what they did was something special. They competed against 41 teams from around the world in a 96-hour competition and did 21 day and night events during those 96 hours. They competed against the best in the world, Special Forces from the United States and other parts of the world and these two individuals won the 2016 International Sniper Competition. So let me recognize them and I will ask for your applause. We have Sergeant Nicholas Mitchell and Sergeant Saykham Keophalychanh and one thing in particular with these two fine individuals, let the deer of Michigan beware when they are out hunting.
The next thing I would like to do though, I view as important. I would like to ask for a moment of silence as we recognize the deceased military, law enforcement, and first responders that we have lost in the last year. (silence) Thank you.
Now let me talk about some successes in the state of Michigan. We should be really proud, we had an incredible year. It is remarkable what you can accomplish when we work together. When we put progress over partisanship, compromise over conflict, when we listen, not to the loudest voices in the room, but the smartest, when we live relentless positive action. That is how we measure achievable progress, that is how you achieve measurable results. That, ladies and gentlemen, is Michigan, we listened, we learned, we achieved. We should be proud of a number of the great accomplishments over the last year. We’ve made Michigan a place that if you work hard and play by the rules you can truly get ahead, not just survive, but thrive. Let me give you some illustrations on the job front. In the last few years since 2010 we created almost 500,000 jobs, making us number one in the Great Lakes region and number six in the nation for private sector job growth.
Real jobs fulfilling careers – Imagine the difference every job makes. Every year since 2010, on average 220 Michiganders woke up with a new career opportunity; waking up with a purpose and possibilities with an opportunity to get ahead; not fall behind. We are at the lowest unemployment in 15 years, 10 points below our high of June 2009 and it’s a broad-based comeback. I wanted to make sure different parts of Michigan were participating. Over the last six years we have had 38 counties cut their unemployment rate by more than half with a steady increasing labor force. These counties include Alpena County, Charlevoix, Lake, Luce and Muskegon. In fact we had 16 counties with an unemployment rate below 4% and we have two at 3%.
We are lowering the cost to live in Michigan by increasing the opportunities to serve. It shows up in terms of a growing personal income rate and we should be really proud of that, because Michigan’s hardworking taxpayers deserve it. Per capita, personal income has been growing faster than the national average. How do we rank? For the last six years, we ranked number one in the Great Lakes region again and we ranked number seven nationally. During the first three-quarters of 2016 we ranked third in the nation. This means people have more resources to spend, be better off in their lives and save for a better tomorrow they deserve.
On home values and ownership, since 2010 our housing values have gone up 44%, beating the national average. We are building new houses now and building permits are the highest since 2006 and trending upward. With respect to population, we have had five years of population growth in a row. Do you remember what it was like when we heard about our kids having to leave the state? Actually, raise your hand if you know someone who had to leave Michigan because there was not a job opportunity in the last decade or so. Those days have changed folks. They no longer have to leave Michigan, we are creating opportunities.
To give you a fact you might be amazed by, but we should be really proud, our state has the highest net-bound inward migration of people with bachelor’s degrees of any state in the Great Lakes region. We are winning the national and international competition for quality minds, for career opportunities for quality people and we are going to keep it up. Business in Michigan is growing with exciting expansions and new investors. We are growing a more diverse, vibrant and healthier economy.
One area I want to cover in particular is agriculture, one of our big industries. Food and Ag account for over a $100 billion dollar impact on the state of Michigan. We have had nearly $3 billion dollars in exports just this last year. We are number one in the production of 20 different commodities. In fact, I want to highlight one, the dairy industry. To give you some idea, our production’s up 44% over the last decade. Now here is a stat for you as you travel Michigan. I want you to look for those Michigan cows. Michigan cows are the second most productive in the nation after Colorado per cow. So when you see those cows, give them a shout out. We want Colorado to moove on over. Sometimes there is a chance when you got the mic you got to go for it.
One company in particular I would like to highlight is Continental Dairy in Coopersville and we have Steve Cooper from Continental Dairy with us. They have invested over $50 million dollars in recent years to expand butter production and processing. In addition, a new product Fair Life is being processed next door. It’s great, and we have an opportunity to look forward to more growth from Michigan’s Dairy Cooperative. Steve, thank you for joining us tonight.
We have a new company to our state in another commodity area, in the pork area, Clemens Food Group. We have Earnie Meily with us and they are doing incredible things. They are going to be located in Coldwater. They are going to be open fall of this year, they are creating 800 new jobs and they are going to process over 10,000 hogs a day. So let’s give Earnie and his operation a shout out for choosing Michigan.
Now I have a personal favorite for a number of you, we happened to be fifth in breweries, microbreweries, and brew pubs and that has now made us number four in hop production and we have a great barley opportunity. So agriculture is doing well in Michigan.
Tourism, thanks to Pure Michigan we are showing America just how beautiful we think our home state is. I am a huge fan of kayaking, rock hunting, I even tried elk bugling last year. One of my favorite experiences was biking the brewery and wine trail in the Thumb. It was absolutely beautiful. We have so many awesome things to do in our state and we should be proud. One of the great things was what Lonely Planet did for us. They named the U.P. one of the top 10 value destinations for 2017 and it was in a category the only place in the United States along with Venice, Morocco, Belize and Naipaul. The U.P. is right up there with the best in the world
To give you more perspective though, Michigan had the highest growth in incoming international visitors of any state in the nation from 2014 to 2015. The secret is getting out and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Manufacturing. We are simply leading the nation. We have created over 116,000 manufacturing jobs since December 2010. We lead the nation. We are number one both in terms of number of manufacturing jobs and growth rate percentage.
Look at just the beginning of this year. Since the beginning of this year, we have had awesome announcements from Ford, from GM, from FCA talking about more and better jobs coming to Michigan. You hear they are not going to Mexico, but they could choose any state in the nation and they are choosing us, because we have a climate for success.
More and better jobs….a Michigan for our kids. We have had some great successes and we have done incredible things, but that is not good enough. We cannot be satisfied with just positive progress, not when there are more careers waiting out there to be created for our people. Let’s not be nostalgic about the past, we need a strong foundation for our future. It is up to us to create more and better jobs and build an even better Michigan for our kids. How do we do that? I am going to start with good government. I know many of you may even think that is an oxymoron, good and government going together, but in Michigan we prove it works.
We were a broken state before 2010, we were ranked 49th, 50th and in a few cases even 53rd. Our mission was simple, make the government serve its hardworking taxpayers the right way, with truly efficient, effectible and above all accountable government. If we didn’t we would keep on passing the buck. It’s time we give the future our kids deserve and we deserve. We started with a budget. If you remember the old days, two of the three years prior to coming to office, we had budget shut-downs. For the last six years, we have gone six for six, getting structural balanced budgets done, three months ahead of schedule, setting a benchmark for the nation for the best budget practices and we should be proud of that and we need to keep that up.
In terms of a rainy day fund, again in 2010 when I took office, we had $2 million dollars which wouldn’t run state government for 30 minutes. During the course of 2017 we will reach over $700 million dollars in our rainy day fund.
Now local government is a key issue too, and we should be proud there. In fact I want to give a shout out to Detroit. It is great to have Mayor Duggan with us. Stand up!
We have gone from bankruptcy to the comeback city of the United States. Just recently the New York Times says Detroit is ninth on the list of places to go in 2017, beating out places like Athens, Madrid and even the Great Barrier Reef. It’s incredible.
I want to give a shout out to the legislators for great work on Detroit Schools this year. We addressed the legacy financial debt. Local control has been restored with the new board. There is still much tough work to be done and I encourage the new board to be laser-focused on the kids learning with an emphasis on prudent financial management while we go through that process. I want to give a shout out to Senator Hansen and Representatives Garcia and Kelly. Thank you for that work on that legislation.
We have more opportunity in Detroit, though, and that’s where I appreciate a partnership with the Mayor on the Detroit Promise. It’s a wonderful program that we have launched to really give college opportunity to kids in Detroit. We started with a two-year program and this year we opened it up to a four-year opportunities. We are going to have over 1,000 students participating this year, with 268 having an opportunity to go to a university now; but we can’t take this for granted. In fact I am calling on our philanthropic and business communities to join in and help the Mayor and I support the Promise and continue the path to give awesome opportunities to these great, young people from Detroit.
We have problems at the local government level. We must be honest about them, we must recognize them and we must address them. We have too much legacy liability in a number of our communities. The problem, we have 334 local units that provide retiree health care and pension, that have $14 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities, a huge burden. These are local challenges that demand local input outside of the Lansing bubble. This is why I want to form a collaborative work group with my legislative partners, local government and local employees to ensure the financial stability that will lead to the effective delivery of local services and look to protect their benefits as best possible during this time frame. As a state, we cannot get ahead if too many of our local governments have problems. So I look forward to that effort over the next year.
Now to continue this, in addition to good government, we need strong communities and good communities lead to good states. I want to share some of the outstanding things we have going:
Healthy Michigan, we have 640,000 Michiganders in this program. It has provided over 2.8 million primary care visits, over 400,000 preventative care visits, and it’s saving us money. From 2013 to 2015 costs of uncompensated care decreased by almost 44% on average in our hospitals. A savings of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Healthy Kids Dental has been a huge success. Back in 2010 we had over 400,000 kids covered in certain locations in Michigan. Thanks to six years of dedicated work with you my legislative partners, we now covering in every corner of Michigan, over a million kids. We should be really proud of that
With respect to helping Michigan, in particular though, when it comes to the federal government, we hope for the best, but can’t count on it. There’s going to be changes in health care. The important thing is that we need to let them know that Healthy Michigan is a model that can work for the rest of the country. That we should be speaking up and I look forward to working with my federal partners to talk about the value of this program, how it may even be enhanced as we go through these difficult and challenging questions and we look forward to reimagining health care for all Michiganders and our entire country with Michigan being a leader in that dialogue and I appreciate your support in that effort.
On the public health side, I created the Public Health Advisory Commission to help ensure Michigan is best in class in public health both at the local and state level and they will be coming to me with recommendations in April and I believe a number of legislative recommendations; so I look forward to working with you there.
A problem area we have is Opioid Abuse. Since 2009, we have seen a doubling of heroin overdoses; that is unacceptable. We need to do better. I do want to thank the Legislature; you did outstanding work in passing Good Samaritan legislation that encourages people to seek help for themselves or others without fear of prosecution. We are making an investment in Michigan’s automated prescription system, which will make a big difference in preventing drug diversion, whether it be prescribers, pharmacies, or at the patient level. MSP has launched an angel program at their Gaylord post. Literally, people can now come to the Gaylord post and ask for help. MSP, the Michigan State Police, will actually help them get treatment. That is the kind of out-reach we should have. We are going to expand that program and I also want to recognize legislators. We had a great task force working with us. In particular I want to give a shout out to Senator Tonya Schuitmaker and Rep. Andy Schor for their work, so thank you.
Our environment, we need to focus on being cleaner, safer, healthier, more sustainable. It’s one of our greatest assets, the wonderful environment we live in with the Great Lakes and all the wonderful things we have.
One of the big accomplishments this last year was energy legislation. Some of us even pulled an all-nighter on that one, but it was worth it because it’s going to achieve three outcomes. It’s going to help protect our environment, it’s going to help us meet our energy needs, and it’s going to save Michiganders money. And I want to give a shout out to several people, Senators Nofs and Proos and Representatives Afendoulis and VerHeulen and to former Representative Nesbitt, thank you for your great work.
On wetlands. They are vital to our wildlife and infrastructure. We have lost an estimated four million acres of wetlands over the last few decades. We’re going to do something unique this year. The DNR is going to create a public private partnership on state land to work with local landowners to say we can use state lands as a mitigation bank to help encourage development and at the same time protecting our environment. I look forward to working with the Legislature on how to do that effectively and to do something that will be unique to the nation that will encourage more smart development while we protect our environment.
Invasive carp, one of the greatest threats to our state. We need to do more. We’ve invested resources, but we need to catalyze all the Great Lake states on doing more, and our nation. One of the ways we are going to do this is, I’m excited about, we’re creating an international crowdsourcing challenge to invite the brightest minds in our country to come together with innovative ideas about how to address this challenge. We are going to be launching this challenge early in the year. If you want to start getting information you can go to MI.gov/carpchallenge to start getting more information. But we are going to put those minds together and be creative.
On the topic of environmental justice, I’m going to announce a work group to go study the issue of environmental justice to make sure all Michiganders have a clean, safe, healthy environment no matter who they are or where they live and I look forward to that work product.
For our seniors, the greatest generation and beyond. In 2014 and 2015 we worked with the Silver Key Coalition, the legislators and us all worked together to get rid of a waiting list that we had for in-home services, whether it be meals or other services. We provided the resources to eliminate the waiting list. We were so successful though and we got word out that we had more people sign up so we have a waiting list again. Let’s make that waiting list go away again.
In terms of our veterans, we need to support them. They’ve sacrificed for us. We need to support them when they come back home. We are doing some great things with veteran employer programs but we can do better. To give you an idea, we started two years ago. We had a commitment from veteran-friendly employers to hire 600 people. This last year we did over 2,700 people, but I’m making a call for all Michigan employers. We have dozens of companies now, we should have hundreds of thousands. So if you’re an employer in Michigan, let’s get you signed up for that program and let’s change that number from 2,700 to thousands and thousands. So I’m asking for your support on that.
One of the challenges we had this year was our veteran’s homes at the state level. We know there are huge challenges at the federal level. While the Marquette Home got good rankings and ratings from the federal VA, we had issues, audit issues, and other real issues in Grand Rapids. Since then we’ve worked hard to correct those problems, we’ve seen tremendous progress. A December audit report shows we’ve made great progress. In addition to that work though, it really catalyzed a bipartisan work group to recommend new major steps for veteran’s homes, including Medicaid certification, new facilities and a new governance model that will be the best in the nation. I want to recognize Senators Hildenbrand and O’Brien and Representative Barrett for their great work putting that together, so thank you for your partnership. I wanted to save this, but now I’d ask that all our military and veterans stand and let’s give them a round of applause for their current service going forward.
Safe neighborhoods and campuses. No one should have to walk our streets in fear, not now, not ever, and we have more work to be done. In communities with our secure cities partnership, we’ve seen double digit decreases in violent crime. The program is working and we are going to expand it to more cities. Another key issue, though, that is a huge national issue is we need to improve community and police relations and I want to support the Michigan State Police for wonderful work that they have done already, they are going to do more. The Department of Civil Rights has done some great work, they’re going to continue and we are going to put a real emphasis to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement standards to really emphasize community policing, community relations and we are going to do more in the areas of training, recruitment and dialogue and that’s an important area we should be working on.
A really exciting thing going on in Michigan is the Vocational Village at Ionia, our state prison there. Most inmates will re-enter our communities after they serve their due time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, isn’t it better, if we help them have a job as they exit rather than creating an environment where they may end up creating more crime. We are doing that now. They are actually providing outstanding technical and vocational skills. Things like trucking programs, construction, manufacturing, auto repair. In Ionia today the program is really working. We are seeing people get job offers as they walk out the door or before. We are going to expand that program to Jackson this next year and the women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, so let’s grow this program and help our returning citizens have better opportunity.
Sexual assault on campus. We need to do everything we can to keep our college and university campuses safe. Michigan has become a national leader on this and I’m proud of what the First Lady Sue Snyder has done and her legislative partners. They have been a great team for their leadership on this issue and I’d love to give them a shout out for their leadership on this topic. They’ve held a second summit now, they had over 500 people in attendance from all across the state of Michigan and were doing grants to multiple colleges, 18 colleges and universities, with $500,000 in grants to do better on this topic. We need to keep that up.
Now at this point what I’d like to do is actually ask all our public safety and first responders to stand so we can recognize you and your great service to our state. If you are a first responder or public safety person.
Now I’d like to talk with you about Flint for a couple minutes. Make no mistake, this was a sad chapter in the history of our state. Last year the people of Flint suffered an unacceptable crisis. I made a commitment to the people of Flint to fix it. We took immediate action and in the following days and months we’ve worked tirelessly to make Flint’s water safe to drink again and improve the entire city of Flint. We’re making progress but our work is not yet. I want to thank Mayor Weaver who is here tonight, the city council and the White House for their partnership. We all owe the people of Flint a solution and we’ve worked hard to deliver that, we are going to continue to be committed to that, and I want to thank all of you in the House for your support. Where’s the Mayor? Mayor you should stand up. Thank you. In terms of progress, though, on the water front we have new test results and by June of 2016 this last year we provided $27 million to help with lead pipe replacements to the city of Flint. To date we’ve seen progress, over 600 pipes have been replaced and we look forward to working with the city on accelerating the progress of that. We are working hard on that topic.
In terms of health, we have over 24,000 new Flint residents on Medicaid waivers to help provide health care. On education, we have over 400 new positions for early childhood education in the community of Flint and we’ve seen 827 new jobs created in that community since we started this process and again we are going to keep up activity in each one of those categories.
That ties right in with infrastructures. We know this is a huge challenge not just in Flint, but we saw what happened in Fraser with the sink hole. We are at risk in every corner of Michigan for aging infrastructure and we cannot take this for granted. Michigan residents deserve safe, reliable, sustainable infrastructure. That’s why I created the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission last year. The commission did tremendous work, they looked for best practice not just in our country but around the world. They concluded that we need to invest more. We need to literally invest billions of dollars of new investment over the next several decades. We need to look at all public and private sources for this, including fees, taxes, grants, bonds. We need to start now working on this issue and we need to stay committed to it.
Now I’ve talked about a huge investment but we can be smarter about how we invest, so one of the things I want to work with the legislature on is creating a pilot and working hard on is something they found is integrative asset management. Now that’s a really fancy word but it’s really simple. Think now about the road in front of your house or your business. How often have you seen that road get torn up to do road work and then it gets repaired and it gets torn up to do gas work or electric work or fiber beam laid and how many times does it get torn up when we could tear it up once and do that work all at once to a tremendous savings. That’s the kind of smart things we can lead in Michigan and we would be a national leader in that. On water quality we need to improve. We learned that from the Flint situation and I’m excited to be proposing a stricter standard than the federal government for the lead and copper rule. We need a better rule. That was part of the problem. It needs to have lower acceptable levels, it needs to have better testing protocols, it needs to have better notification and it needs to have better public input. So I look forward to working with the Legislature on that.
In terms of infrastructure, though, one area we really need to work at the national level, our top priority in terms of ask of the federal government should be the Soo Locks. We need a second 1,000 foot lock. It was actually authorized by Congress back in 1986 and the money was never appropriated. Our entire economy in this country is at risk with having only one lock. Homeland Security has said that themselves. The US Department of Treasury actually came out with a recent study showing it could be a huge economic boom to have a second lock and we need to make that a priority and I will in terms of discussions with the President and Congress and I appreciate your support.
Education. We need to give our kids the education that gives them the skills and judgment they need to achieve quality careers, to start families and to give back to their communities. So I created the Education Commission this last year to take up those issues and I’m looking forward to their recommendations but we have made some key accomplishments this last year. One thing in particular I’m excited about was the work on pre-3 reading, about enhancing the investment in those young people because you learn to read through third grade. After third grade you read to learn and we need to do more and we’re going to get up to being the best in the nation by working these standards and I appreciate that partnership.
Now all of you know I’m a proud nerd, but this is one where I actually had a good idea brought to me and I’ll tell you who it came from in a moment. We need to do better with computer science, computer education and cyber security in our schools. K-12 there’s no time to wait. Actually there’s a recent study that says that 71% of the STEM, science, technology, engineering technology, math, jobs of the future will need to have knowledge about computer coding, computer science and such. 71%. Think about your schools in your area and think about what they are teaching. We have a huge gap. We need to close that gap and so I look forward to creating a work group to work with the legislature, the Superintendent, on coming up with great ideas about how to encourage more of this and you’re going to find us willing to make investments, it’s that important.
Now the wonderful part of this story is our young people see this so I had a case this year where I actually thought I was just doing a photo opportunity, they didn’t even give me a staff person with me and as they take a picture with four wonderful women from East Lansing High School. They had achieved something, they started a group called Students for Females in STEM, they walked in my office, I thought I was taking a picture and they gave me two minute elevator pitches from each of the four about how we needed to get our act together in the state of Michigan on this issue and they were right and they are with us tonight so if they could stand up and we can recognize you.
As I said earlier it’s about listening to people and understand where they are coming from and it’s important to learn that we can learn from some high school students. We don’t have all the answers and this is a great case where they brought the issue up. We listened, we learned and we’re going to make Michigan better because of it.
Now the next thing we need to do is make sure not only do we give education, but we don’t treat education and the economy and careers as silos. We need to help people become career connected, to really look at the whole issue not why they’re just in school, but lifelong learning. That’s the opportunities we face, that’s the world we’re looking at. We’re going to continue to see huge change in the economy. Whole careers and opportunities may disappear while new ones are being created and we need to have the flexibility to respond to that, not in a vacuum, but in a leadership position. So one of the things I’m excited about is what we’ve been doing with apprenticeships. We are clearly one of the leading states in the nation with apprenticeships. In fact this last year we had a 14% increase in registered apprentices and we have more than 13,000 already, but that number needs to grow dramatically and I know I have partners in this Legislature to talk about how to grow more apprenticeships in this state and I know I have great partners from the private sector that believe in that too.
A great program that we did this last year we should be really proud of is called CCSTEP. It was about providing capital equipment to our community colleges to upgrade their career tech education programs. So if you’re an auto technician looking to do auto repair you didn’t go on 10 year-old equipment, you’re using the same equipment you’re going to walk on the job and use. If you’re doing machining the same thing. It was an outstanding investment that we helped 18 community colleges. I went around and toured a number of these community colleges. The results are outstanding. Places like Bay College are doing emergency medical technician. One of the most exciting programs I heard of was at Washtenaw Community College at the Auto Show. They are literally doing mobility technicians to understand how to do lidar vision systems, all these new systems that are going to be going on vehicles. It’s cutting edge. That’s the kind of attitude we need to bring to career connectedness and we are going to invest more in programs like this. I want to see more done to help K-12 do that same kind of investment.
Building the 21st Century economy. I’ve created a commission to help work toward that. Our economy is changing rapidly and the jobs of today won’t be the jobs of tomorrow necessarily as I said earlier. We each have a role, this is not something government can simply fix. We all have to be at the table. At the government level what are we doing? Over the last few years we dumped the dumbest tax in America, we cut needless regulations, we started paying down our long-term debt, we started saving for the future, we laid the groundwork for success we have today so our businesses could create jobs. We create the environment for job creation, we don’t create those jobs.
At the employer level, we have some of the greatest companies in the world here in Michigan doing wonderful, innovative things. Two illustrations. A small company Second Chance Wood in Durand. What they’re doing is taking reclaimed lumber from old trees from barns, from demolition sites, and making new furniture out of it. They have created 60 jobs. In fact, when they looked to where to set up, they could have gone to Texas, Wisconsin or Michigan, they are in Michigan. A company doing incredible work in Whitehall that many of you may have never heard of is Arconic. Let me put it to you this way, they are a large aerospace manufacturer, if you are flying on a commercial aircraft in our country you are likely benefiting from their product. They are doing world class products that are innovating each and every day and we should be proud of the great things they are doing and we need to give a shout out to all the companies creating great jobs like that.
At the individual level, there is responsibility there too. About getting that training and I’m proud to say we lead the nation in having more industrial designers than any other state. I’m proud to say we lead the nation in having more mechanical and industrial engineers than any other state in the nation and when you look at where the automotive industry is doing their research, 75% of the R and D in the US auto industry is in Michigan.
Let’s not forget entrepreneurship. One of the cool statistics, and I could talk about so many start-ups, I don’t have time, but just to give you a benchmark on Venture Capital. The Venture Capital industry in our country has actually declined by 14% over the last few years. In Michigan, what has it done, over the last 15 years it’s up over 257%. So that capital is here, making smart investments, doing wonderful things, every corner from Detroit to up in the U.P. and we should be proud of that.
Now there is more to do though, in terms of giving better opportunities. It’s all about the demand for talent and making sure we make that connection. Remember the question that all of us heard back in 2010/2009, the question I heard from everyone was ‘where is there a job?’ That’s not the question we’re hearing today. The jobs are out there, the question is how do I get the training, how do I get the opportunity to take that job? This is where we need to make that connection happen. To put in perspective for you, if you go to mitalent.org, our website that aggregates job openings, when we had 11% unemployment back in 2011, we had 80,000 open jobs. We’re below 5% today and we have 90,000 open jobs, good well-paying jobs. We must improve our career counseling. We’ve got to build on long-term talent pipeline on programs like First Robotics and Square One. We’ve got to do more to have career fairs, hands on career fairs for our kids of all ages and their parents. We’ve got to get our companies to be more proactive to offer tours, to provide mentors, to provide apprenticeships. This is a team effort folks, let’s all rally together to make this happen.
We also have a huge opportunity given the situation to reach out to people that didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to be in our workforce, they face challenges, and to invite them to join us in this workforce and help eliminate the barriers that have kept them out. Two programs in particular, a program we started several years ago in 2012 is Community Ventures. It was there to help break down the barriers of the structurally unemployed. Did they need a ride to training? Did they need help with day care? This was beyond all the federal programs which are inadequate in my view. This was solely state dollars on how we can help these people. We’re doing this in Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw and Detroit. Since it started we’ve created over 3,700 good job opportunities, 1,000 in the last year alone. We’re having more and more employers enter the program and we’re going to expand to more cities. This is a great opportunity to grow.
The next area though is something I want to give a shout out to our Lt. Governor and Justice Richard Bernstein. They created the MI Hidden Talent Tour. We have 500,000 working age Michiganders who have a disability and need an opportunity. They have gone to 12 cities across our state. We need to give them a shout out and we need to reach out to help these people with disabilities have the opportunities they deserve. If you look at the results they are tremendously productive and we can do better. Let’s give a shout out to the Justice and Lt. Governor. Justice Bernstein, it is well deserved that I give you this shout out, but I’ll tell you something, in seven years that’s the first time I’ve ever got the Supreme Court to stand up.
Place making: it is a critical priority. If you look at it, we need vibrant places to work, to play, to live. This is critical to our young people, our most important asset in the state of Michigan. Our best and the brightest are looking for the best opportunities and the best places to live. Here, not in the south, not in Silicon Valley. So we have to give them every reason to stay. We need to win that competition to create the best environments for them to want to live. If you look at those hi-tech industries, those high opportunities, high paying jobs, they’re looking for those same places because they want to go where that talent is going to be. We are seeing that with the comeback of Detroit, with Grand Rapids, with a number of our other communities, but there is more to be done. That’s where I’m looking forward to working with the Legislature this year on smarter more fiscally efficient and effective policies to unlock private investment to revitalize our downtowns, urban areas, and our main streets throughout Michigan. We can do this in a smart way that will really be a catalyst for transformation in our urban areas, to really increase the flow and the pace of young people staying in Michigan, coming to Michigan, and those employers flocking to Michigan. Let’s work together on that.
A wonderful program to compliment though, is a program I call Rising Tide, we started over a year ago. How do we help our smaller communities in Michigan that may not have been included in the great economic comeback I was talking about, participate? We took one community in each of the 10 regions of our state. It was about helping them help themselves. It wasn’t about giving them a bunch of money, it was about bringing in resources on talent development, economic development, community development. These are proud wonderful people in these communities that just needed a helping hand. It’s working folks. Over the last year, I’ve gone to all 10 of these communities. It’s exciting to see the exciting things going on, the passion, the fire, they believe in their communities and to see that growth happen. We’re going to continue this program. In fact, my goal is to watch these first 10 communities graduate, and the thing I’ve asked of them is to go find another community in their region where they can go show them what they’ve done and how they can help one another. I think it’s a great opportunity success when you have 10 communities, we actually have several of them with us tonight up in the gallery from Charlotte, Evart, Harrison and River Rouge, if you’d please stand up we can give you a round of applause.
One of the things to talk about though, is we have the 21st Century Economy Commission and I appreciate their work and I’m looking forward to it.
In addition to that though, we do have some exciting opportunities. One of the most exciting things we have going on is the convergence of IT and automotive becoming the mobility industry, the whole future of intelligent vehicles. I want to thank Senator Kowall in particular for the autonomous vehicle legislation we had this last year. We are a national leader because of the work of this Legislature.
In addition to that, we have the whole Planet M, mobility effort. Now we’re getting better at marketing in Michigan, folks, we’re thinking big when we call it Plant M. This is about being the best in the world, and we are. We are winning the mobility race, but we need to keep it up. We have wonderful assets like M-City, the new American Center for mobility that will be 300+ acres at Willow Run. We have smart highways, we’re doing on-the-road testing, we’re going to look at the regulatory, insurance, medical issues, all these things. This is an area we cannot afford to slow down in. We are the world’s leader today, we need to continue to be the world’s leader, we need to be the catalyst for the world, to invite all parts of the world to join us in doing this in a safe, smart way. This isn’t just about vehicles.
Next topic is, if you heard all these things, it’s simple. We need to grow Michigan. We need to grow our population. I’ve talked about how we have been growing, but if you look at it over the last six years, we’ve added 50,000 people over six years. I want to set a real goal, we can grow faster than that, we can do better. Particularly with some of these great programs we’ve talked about tonight. Our goal should be to reach 10 million people again. We were there once. We’re at 9,928,000. We need 71,000 more people and let’s get them over the next three years, let’s put them to work in Michigan.
I’m proud to be promoting Michigan, this is the greatest place to live, work and play. This is a place we want to have for our children and it’s great to have my family here. I want to see them have a wonderful future along with all their friends, neighbors, and all the wonderful Michigan kids out there.
A few years ago I took some flack for telling college students they had a choice. You could be another yuppie in Chicago or you can make a difference in Detroit. I still believe that statement. We want those innovative, entrepreneurial young people here. People that want to make a difference in the world, right here in Detroit, right here in Michigan.
Think about what a difference a few years have made. I talked about the numbers, the net inward migration going on in Michigan. We’re not just retaining, we’re gaining, we’re winning and why not? We have awesome communities, amazing quality of life. We have a sense of purpose. We’re showing how we can work together. This is not just a place to achieve but a place to achieve but to believe in. People of all ages can see opportunity here, the ability to make a difference and attracting companies here, too. Think about this, how many would have imagined Google and Uber setting up shop in Detroit, Rubbermaid setting up a research and development shop in Kalamazoo, Amazon setting up a shop in Livonia. They’re not coming here to be nice to us, they are coming because they see talent here. They see opportunity in Michigan and we need to make sure those opportunities are there for them and for the great people working in those organizations. This is the kind of start we need and we need to build on it, we need to accelerate.
I want to share one story with you. I was at the Auto Show last week and we did a press conference announcing the first world champions, all the First Robotics are bringing their world championships to Detroit for 2018-2020. Many of you may not be familiar with it, but it’s a huge activity. It is heaven for nerds. I’m very excited by this coming. It is awesome. It is a huge event. It will use both Cobo Center and Ford Field, it’s that large bringing people and companies from around the world to compete. We did a press conference, but during the press conference a hand went up, not from a press person, but from a Dad. What did the Dad say? He said, ‘I want you to understand what this program can do and what’s going on in our state.’ He said, ‘My son was a junior in high school, had no idea where he was going to go to school, no idea about what he was going to study.’ His Dad took him to a First event, he signed up for a First Robotic team, fell in love with it. He is now majoring in mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech. He just took a job in a co-op program with OEM from the auto industry here in Michigan. He’s reinventing Michigan. That young man is our future and we should be proud of that.
Our proven track record shows how far we have come. These are great accomplishments, but we can’t take them for granted. We still face serious challenges in our state, challenges we didn’t plan on, but we will overcome those too, with relentless positive action and partnership. We have a vision and a persistence and a commitment to our people that proves just how far we have to go still. But that’s why we are going to succeed, by working together as one Michigan. Let’s go get this done.
God bless Michigan and the United States of America. Thank you.