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WATCH: Gov. Whitmer outlines economic proposals at Small Business Summit in Detroit

Gretchen Whitmer
Posted at 2:52 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 15:33:13-04

DETROIT — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke Wednesday afternoon at the Minority, Immigrant and Women Owned Small Business Summit in Detroit.

Watch it live here:

Whitmer laid out her $2.1 billion proposal meant to grow the state's middle class, support small businesses and invest in communities by tackling several underlying issues.

"Since day one, I have been laser-focused on putting Michiganders first and making progress on the kitchen-table issues with real, tangible solutions," Whitmer said. "As we emerge from the once-in-a-century pandemic, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use billions in federal resources to grow Michigan's middle class, support small businesses and invest in our communities. With the $2.1 billion in proposals I have laid out, we can raise wages, give people paths to high-skill jobs, grow start-ups, build clean energy infrastructure and do so much more. I'm utilizing every resource and ensuring that we continue to take bold action to help families, communities and small businesses thrive. Together, we can usher in a new era of prosperity for Michigan."

Whitmer says that while Michigan's economic jumpstart is "underway," the state still faces several economic challenges as well, including "too many jobs that do not pay enough, not enough workers to fill open jobs, not enough workers with the skills necessary to fill high-skill jobs, a lagging entrepreneurial sector and a lack of affordable, attainable housing."

The governor's proposals include:

- $722 million to grow the middle class and educate more workers
- $651 million to support small businesses and create better jobs
- $800 million to build housing and invest in communities

To grow the middle class and educate workers, Whitmer called for a $215 million expansion of Michigan Reconnect and Future for Frontliners, $70 million investment to growing the pipeline of talented workers to industry, a $100 million influx for the Going Pro credential program and further investments in programs that offer work experience to Michiganders earning their GEDs and help those reentering society after incarceration transition into the workforce.

READ MORE: State rolls out $24M Futures for Frontliners program for free college tuition

To support small businesses and create better jobs, Whitmer wants to build on her $300 million Michigan Mainstreet Initiative, which offers grants to restaurants, place-based businesses and microenterprises with further dollars to attract more start-ups.

She outlined a $200 million investment to create "a more conducive business environment for high-tech, high-growth start-ups and create jobs of the future in Michigan."

The governor also put forward $40 million to speed up electric vehicle charging infrastructure and $100 million to prepare manufacturers and the workforce for "opportunities of the future."

Finally, she proposed an $11 million investment into the STEM Forward program, which places STEM students in internships in Michigan and "improves talent attraction and retention."

Wednesday's economic announcement is meant to build on the governor's Michigan's Economic Jumpstart Plan, which she unveiled in June.

The plan is meant to increase incentives to boost wages and attract applicants, provide grants to small businesses to ramp up hiring and expand access to childcare for families with young children who want to return to work but cannot.