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Whitmer visits GRCC, proposes $2.1 billion economic package

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out 14 specific proposals as part of the package.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke at Grand Rapids Community College Tuesday. She touched on the state's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and proposed a multi-billion dollar spending package.

She wants to use $2.1 billion in federal funds to address economic recovery. She laid out 14 proposals over three categories: Families, communities and small businesses.

"The talent issue is the number one issue we hear from employers," said Andy Johnston with the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. "So how can we fill those needs in the short term and in the long term."

Included in the proposal is $100 million for the Going PRO Talent Fund, and an additional $215 million to the Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs.

"We had 160,000 people sign up for these," Gov. Whitmer said. "That means there are people who are eager to get the skills, but the barrier has been cost." 

"These are programs that have proven track records," Johnston added. "We want to see them continue to be supported." 

On top of training and placement, the governor wants to invest $300 million in the service industry through the Main Street Michigan Initiative, and another $200 million to tech-based startups and small businesses.

"We need to entice families and businesses to make Michigan their home and to make the investment right here," Gov. Whitmer said.

Also included in the proposal are $100 million to rehabilitate vacant buildings, $200 million to redevelop brownfield sites and $40 million toward electric vehicle charging around the state.

"I think the governor and the legislature need to sit down and hash it out, decide what can be agreed on to move the ball forward," Johnston said.

Gov. Whitmer says she hopes these proposals will contribute to Michigan's Sixty by 30 initiative, which aims to increase the number of working age adults in the state with a college degree or skill certificate to 60%. It is currently at 49% across the state.

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