OSCODA - Gov. Rick Snyder is a proponent of economic growth and creating jobs, but he knows in order to provide the necessary workforce to interested companies the state needs a larger crop of skilled trade workers.
Snyder toured Northeast Michigan and made stops at small and large businesses. He stopped at Forward Corp. in Standish, the Au Sable Restaurant in Mio and Kalitta Air, which employs more than 800 workers at the former Air Force Base in Oscoda. Snyder said small businesses are the bread and butter of Michigan's economy and he wants them to be able to grow and thrive. He said the job market in the state is improving, but his ambitions are to continue to lure businesses to Michigan and provide the type of employees they will seek.
"I have had a great trip today and I've seen some great products and that is creating higher paying jobs, but more needs to be done," Snyder said. "We still have more people than what we would like and I'm working on this path. We have to focus on skilled trades. We have great hard working people, but we have to give them the right skill set so they can move right into some of these jobs."
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Gov. Rick Snyder admirers the handiwork of Erik Nieman, left, and Doug Powers who are wiring a harness together that will be used for the navigation system of an airplane at Kalitta Air on Thursday. Snyder toured Northeast Michigan Thursday and said the state needs to do a better job of helping people learn more skilled trades because there are employers looking to fill those type positions.
The towns Snyder visited, as well as others such as Alpena and Rogers City, are somewhat isolated from the state's main highway system and that impacts development to a certain degree. Snyder said the region has other amenities that other areas don't and promoting their beauty and natural resources can help those communities flourish.
"There are several things communities here can do. There is the Pure Michigan concept. This is a great quality of life area and if they put in some resources and partner with Pure Michigan we can partner even more," Snyder said. "Manufacturing is also big, but it goes back to the skilled trades again. People need to have the skill sets employers are looking for. Let's emphasize that more and then there is agriculture. There is definitely growth opportunities in agriculture all over Michigan."
One of the largest challenges facing the state that could hinder new development is roads and bridges in the state are deteriorating at a rate faster than what they can be fixed or replaced. Snyder said he has been trying for several years to get an increase in funds to improve the transportation system, but just now people see the problem and the long-term effects poor roads will have.
"We need to invest more in our roads, period," Snyder said. "I've been calling for that for two-plus years now. This last pothole season has brought it to the attention of the average person who now says we need to invest in that and I appreciate that. People have been speaking out and we needed that to happen, because the legislators are listening now. I hope by the end of the year we can reach a more comprehensive solution."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.