Critical road repairs, bridging the skills gap, and other issues were the focus of a discussion by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to a group of local leaders in Dearborn Monday.
Whitmer was the guest speaker at a policy luncheon at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center hosted by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, the Dearborn Area Chamber of Chamber of Commerce, ACCESS, Henry Ford College, and a number of other local business and political organizations.
“She didn’t offer excuses or put a spin on trying to sell us a plan,” said Lisa Korte, owner of Korte’s Collision in Dearborn Heights. “The governor gave us the facts and what it will take to make things right with no promise of an instant cure.”
Whitmer outlined her strategic plan for the state, including fixing the state’s crumbling roads, a key component to her 2018 election campaign. Earlier this year, she proposed a 45-cent-per-gallon incremental tax increase on gasoline sales set to begin Oct. 1. The idea has touched off debate, but no solid solution, in Lansing, but she is confident a deal can be reached.
“My ride from Traverse City to Mackinaw City was a rough one earlier this year,” Whitmer said, “and the Miller Road bridge here in Dearborn is one of 447 bridges in the state that are in serious to critical condition. We have to find a way to provide safe roads for all of us.”
Whitmer also addressed the need to help state employers fill an estimated 545,000 skilled labor jobs expected to be available within the next seven years. The governor has set a goal of hiking the number of post-secondary degrees or certificates to 60% by 2030, as a number of careers in the state require education beyond high school.
Earlier Monday, Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced the launch of Going PRO in Michigan, a public-private partnership designed to provide training for and promote careers in professional skilled occupations and industries.
“Addressing the roads problem and the skills gap are key to Michigan’s future,” Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce President Jackie Lovejoy said. “Right now, less than half of all Michigan residents have a post-secondary skill. Besides good roads and safe water, our young people need a state that offers viable career training to keep them employed here and our local economies strong.”