Governor Gretchen Whitmer was in northern Michigan on Friday, meeting with local communities to see how the state can help rural Michigan thrive.
Governor Whitmer made three stops: Fremont, Thompsonville, and Honor, and at each of them, seeing how state projects helped and where they failed. It seemed the same reasons kept coming up, rural broadband, equal educational opportunity, and affordable housing.
“We want to make sure we recover from the pan,” Whitmer said.
It’s a multi-faceted problem that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic and has disproportionately affected rural Michigan. Life has gone virtual, small businesses have suffered, people have left the labor market, here a massive lack of housing has developed.
“There are a lot of jobs that are going unfilled right now,” Whitmer said, “Because people need housing, they go together.”
During his stops in northern Michigan, Whitmer saw community leaders, small businesses and real estate developers working for their communities.
“You know it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation for pretty much anything,” Whitmer said.
Even among rural Michigan, the Village of Honor has different needs than Frankfort. The state created the Office of Rural Development to help meet the unique needs of each community and give them a voice in Lansing.
“That rural communities don’t have barriers in front of them or old statutes that make it harder to be on the radar,” Whitmer said, “and can compete for resources.”
There is a huge amount of money available to spend and these issues are nothing new and it was another post Friday, Northern Michigan needs help now.
“We can’t do this overnight so we have to be a little patient,” Whitmer said, “But man, we have a lot of work to do. We have to work together to work it out.