Whitmer at ACC: Make paths ‘available to everyone’
Governor pushes 2-year scholarships on visit to Alpena
ALPENA — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continued her “Home for Opportunity” tour on Tuesday at Alpena Community College, where she met students and instructors in different programs.
The tour is focused on Michigan being the home for opportunity, both for current Michigan residents and for people trying to come to Michigan, Whitmer said.
She said closing the skills gap is something she devoted a lot of energy to in her State of the State address last week, and it will be reflected in her budget.
“There is dignity and prosperity in many different paths for people and we’ve got to make sure that those paths really are real and available for everyone,” she said.
Whitmer said visiting the college Tuesday was really cool, from seeing the lineman work to the cement businesses. She said it’s unique and leads to good-paying jobs.
College President Don MacMaster said it was an honor to have Whitmer visit Alpena and the college and to show off what the college does. He said she’s interested in occupational programs, trades, and curriculum that leads to jobs.
“It’s great to have the exposure, it’s great for her to see what we do, and we were just pleased to have her attend here today,” MacMaster said.
MacMaster said that, when outsiders come in and see what the college offers, they’re amazed, and he said the college is proud of what they offer to students.
Whitmer said it’s great to see the college and hear from MacMaster, students, and instructors in the programs to see what the opportunity means for them.
While on her tour, Whitmer has visited different community colleges and she said each one offers phenomenal chances for people to get the skills they need to get a good job.
“We have this tendency for a long time to think that there was one path to a good job and we’ve done ourselves a huge disservice by telling people that,” Whitmer said. “Every one of us has a path and every one of us is different and every one of us needs the opportunity to pursue something we like and that will lead us to a paycheck that you can raise a family on.”
In her State of the State address last week, Whitmer said she will work to provide two years of debt-free community college for students. She said it will impact ACC because, when you ensure someone can afford a path, it is more likely they will pursue it.
“There’s been a complete barrier for a lot of people because the expense of getting some sort of secondary degree or certification has just been out of reach, and we’re trying to level that barrier and, when we do, we’ll make sure that we got a higher percentage of our population with the skills they need,” Whitmer said.
Two years of debt-free community college would be positive for the college, MacMaster said. He said details still have to be seen, but it’s intriguing to the college and fits what the college does.
“We’re anxious to see in her budget the details around the idea,” MacMaster said.
Whitmer also stopped in Saginaw and Flint Tuesday after visiting the college. She was at the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Monday night, where she met with local school administrators and state representatives to talk about how to help small businesses in Michigan.
Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.