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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces new initiative aimed at job training for Michigan vets during two-day Silicon Valley mission


December 6, 2019


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces new initiative aimed at job training for Michigan vets during two-day Silicon Valley mission 

  • Formalizes collaboration between PlanetM and Silicon Valley-based business leaders
  • Whitmer in Silicon Valley to promote tech collaboration, investment opportunities in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. –Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today wraps up a two-day investment mission to Silicon Valley, where she met with tech and mobility companies to build relationships, promote business investment and grow talent opportunities in Michigan.

As part of the trip, Governor Whitmer met with global IT leader Cisco, and today announced plans for the expansion of the Cisco CyberVets Scholarship program into Michigan. The pilot will dedicate up to 20 scholarships to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard, Reservists and military spouses in Michigan as part of the March 2020 cohort. Michigan is the first Midwestern state to participate in the program.

“The state of Michigan is committed to providing training and employment opportunities for a diverse workforce to ensure all Michiganders have clear pathways to economic success,” Whitmer said. “The CyberVets Scholarship program will help give Michigan veterans opportunities to receive the skills and training they need to join the high-demand field of cybersecurity. We look forward to partnering with Cisco on this program that will provide meaningful career training to Michigan vets, servicemembers and their spouses.”

The Cisco Veterans Cyber Scholarship Program, part of the Cisco-led, skills-to-job consortium CyberVetsUSA, provides free online cybersecurity training and certification to veterans, transitioning service members, National Guard members, Reservists, and military spouses.

The program offers free online access to highly sought-after courses in secure infrastructure and cybersecurity operations. To be accepted into the program, qualified candidates take a brief skills assessment and are enrolled in the CCNA CyberOps course. The self-paced training typically takes between 12-14 weeks to complete.

“Cisco is committed to ensuring our military community has access to industry-relevant training and certification to take part in the rapidly expanding field of cybersecurity,” said Gena Pirtle, Military & Workforce Programs Manager for Cisco. “Michigan ranks high in tech job growth, so employers will be able to benefit from access to skilled talent through the expansion of the CyberVetsUSA program to the region.”

While in Silicon Valley, Whitmer also announced the formation of MI Next, a new collaborative effort between the state and California-based technology leaders with significant ties back to Michigan. This effort will drive actionable dialogue and connectivity between Michigan and Silicon Valley, and be a frontline resource as Michigan develops new mobility and advanced manufacturing initiatives in the coming years. The collaboration capitalizes on the unique strengths of both Silicon Valley and Michigan to partner on projects and programs, particularly in the mobility and tech space.

“MI Next will help to identify new and innovative ways that Michigan and Silicon Valley can collaborate and leverage our respective unique strengths to partner on technology and mobility focused projects and programs,” Whitmer said. “MI Next will serve as a valuable resource to drive dialogue and help identify Silicon Valley-based companies that have the best opportunity for growth and investment here in Michigan.”


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and PlanetM, the state’s mobility initiative, will convene future meetings of MI Next, which will meet quarterly in San Francisco and includes representatives from companies including Lyft, Intel, Plenty, Box, Airbnb, Salesforce Ventures,, Eclipse Ventures, Sight Machine, and others, as well as key leaders from Michigan’s mobility and startup ecosystem.

Other meetings in Silicon Valley and San Francisco included KLA, Uber, Zipline, Airbus Ventures, and an industry roundtable conversation led by the World Economic Forum. Governor Whitmer was joined by Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Jeff Donofrio, Director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on the trip.

The Silicon Valley trip follows Governor Whitmer’s recent mission to Israel to meet with government, business, and nonprofit leaders to strengthen relationships and build business ties with startups and mobility companies to help Michigan compete for good-paying, high tech jobs.