Gov. Rick Snyder tonight presented his seventh State of the State address to the Legislature, outlining an accountable model for continuing strong economic growth and attracting new talent to Michigan.
From visiting existing employers, community colleges, family farms and new construction sites throughout the past year, to talking with residents who have returned to Michigan for new jobs, the governor spoke about the signs he has seen firsthand that indicate the state is on a solid path to continued success.
Gov. Snyder explained that by continuing to invest in our infrastructure, our students, our communities and the mobility industry, Michigan has just a few obstacles left to overcome before being recognized as the most desirable state in the nation in which to live.
"Michigan today is transformed from the Michigan of six years ago," Snyder said. "We are successful and confident. We are proud. Six years ago we watched our family members, neighbors and coworkers leave for jobs in Chicago or California. To be honest, we weren't very hopeful about our future and we suffered from a lot of negative perception.
"Now we draw positive attention from every state and many different countries. The world flies on airplanes built with parts from Whitehall. People all over the nation drink milk produced in Coopersville. The growing demand for craft beer is met by brewers from Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. Everyone wants more of what Michigan offers, so let's keep going. Let's keep building, creating and welcoming more residents to be part of our great state."
Six years of effective reforms, from revising the tax code, establishing the conditions employers need in order to grow new jobs, a strong partnership with state lawmakers and input from residents have led to Michigan's strongest position as a national leader in decades. Numerous indicators underscore the current strength of our economy, including the creation of nearly half a million private-sector jobs in the past six years and five consecutive years of population increases.
Michigan's population estimate as of December 2016 is 9,928,300 residents. That would mean a net gain of 71,700 residents over the next four years to reach Gov. Snyder's goal of 10 million Michiganders by the end of 2020.
Gov. Snyder identified the following priorities to continue the growth of Michigan's economy while ensuring we have an increased population with skill sets to continue our recent success:
Mobility: Six years ago, no one could have imagined Detroit would be compared to Silicon Valley. Now Michigan is leading the nation.
In December 2016, the governor signed legislation to enable autonomous vehicle expansion.
The purchase of driverless cars is within reach. Once the technology has been tested and certified, manufacturers will be able to offer these vehicles for sale.
Michigan now has the most permissive self-driving car laws in the nation, and has coupled these with high standards for manufacturers and testers in order to ensure safety. A new council will regulate connected vehicle networks and how traffic data, such as vehicle crashes, will be collected and shared.
Innovative language in the new law allows for the creation of on-demand ride sharing technology, with the potential to completely change how Michiganders get from point A to point B.
The American Center for Mobility, established at the former Willow Run bomber plant, will be America's leading non-profit testing and product development facility.
Construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.
This will invite technology and vehicle companies from all over the world to test here.
The overall effect on Southeast Michigan will be sound economic investment, as well as steady growth of new jobs in the technology and auto industries.
Michigan is leading the way in making cars smarter, making them safer, and creating new freedoms for people who are currently unable to operate a vehicle due to physical restrictions. The possibilities for developing new technology are endless.
Education: The success of Michigan's economy now depends largely on educating Michigan's future workforce. This can be achieved by getting young students interested in STEM fields.
The governor signed legislation to improve pre-third grade reading statewide. Individualized plans will be constructed for every student who falls behind to ensure that those students receive the assistance they need to be successful. The new guidelines go into effect for the 2017-2018 kindergarten class.
Detroit Public Schools Community District begins 2017 with a locally-elected school board and no debt, thanks to $617 million invested by the state Legislature.
Increased investment in community colleges and skilled trades apprenticeship programs will draw students to gaining the skills needed for the careers that will dominate Michigan's economy in the coming years.
Infrastructure: Michigan's statewide infrastructure continues to suffer from decades of underinvestment, as evidenced by the water crisis in Flint and the sewer line collapse in Fraser.
The 21st Century Infrastructure Commission that Gov. Snyder announced in last year's State of the State completed their work and issued a report in Dec. 2016.
Gov. Snyder will focus in 2017 on implementation of an integrated asset management pilot program, improving coordination between cities, utilities and state government when planning upgrades to existing infrastructure.
The governor also will continue to pursue reforms with the Legislature that go above and beyond federal standards to help ensure a water quality issue like the one in Flint will never happen again in a Michigan community.
Growing our communities: Creating downtown spaces where Michiganders can live, work and play is integral to retaining residents and attracting new ones.
Detroit is evidence that a cityscape can be completely transformed, and Gov. Snyder will look for ways to partner with the Legislature on how communities throughout Michigan can unlock private investment to revitalize downtowns and main streets.
Seventeen percent of Michigan households lack broadband service. We need to become a Top 5 state for broadband access and adoption through public/private coordination.
Rising Tide is a program created by Gov. Snyder in 2015 to identify communities to benefit from partnerships with the state to increase their place in Michigan's comeback by overcoming barriers to success. The 10 communities originally identified will "graduate" from the program in 2017 and become mentors to new municipalities identified for partnership.
For more State of the State information, including speech mentions, data on jobs and economic growth, photos and infographics, visit www.michigan.gov/stateofthestate or join the conversation at #misots17.