ESCANABA - Thursday was definitely Governor's Day at the state fair in Escanaba where Gov. Rick Snyder attended several events, offering kudos to Yoopers working together to improve the Upper Peninsula.
The Governor's fair schedule included a tour of the fairgrounds, a presentation to the U.P. Veteran of the Year, recognition of the word "Yooper" being added to the dictionary, and remarks made at the Governor's luncheon.
The luncheon is an annual event organized by the Delta Chamber of Commerce, local sponsors, and the fair authority, which is celebrating its fifth year of independent operation with a "High Five" theme.
Holly Richer | Daily Press
Upper Peninsula Veteran of the Year Jim Edberg, right, of Felch, receives his plaque and a congratulatory handshake from Gov. Rick Snyder during a special presentation Thursday morning at the U.P. State Fair.
Coincidentally, Gov. Snyder offered several compliments for those in the U.P. who have been joining forces to improve opportunities in the region.
Since he took office nearly four years ago, Michigan has come from being the state with the highest unemployment to adding 296,000 more private sector jobs, he said.
In addition to increased employment in the state, he said personal income, population and industry have grown.
"The key is working together as a team," said Snyder, adding a word of caution. "Now is not the time to be content and complacent."
Snyder said the U.P. is doing well with tourism, noting the Pure Michigan program could advertise more of the region's hunting and fishing opportunities.
The area's timber industry is seeing "tremendous growth opportunities" and there are also "huge opportunities" for agriculture, he said.
"The U.P. State Fair is agricultural tourism at its best," he added.
Snyder encouraged development of more mining, manufacturing, and knowledge (creating ideas) industries in the region.
"World class products are made in the U.P. You need to be louder and prouder about what you're doing. We are globally competitive right here in the Upper Peninsula," he said.
"You're on the forefront. You're not lagging - you're leading," Snyder added.
The Governor said more skilled workers are needed. He encouraged the training of youth to fill the gap in skilled trades, citing the local intermediate school district and Bay College as educational opportunities.
Snyder received a round of applause when he spoke about businesses in the state which are paying for students' tuition to train them as new workers to meet company needs.
"We have to be competitive against the rest of the world," he said, noting the U.P. is working towards this goal by working together.
Snyder praised municipal representatives of Delta and Marquette counties for visiting the capitol earlier this year as they cooperate to create the Next Michigan Economic Development Zone.
"The U.P. is coming together on the verge of an awesome opportunity," he said.
Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) and House Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette) were instrumental in passing legislation to create the economic development zone in the central U.P.
The two legislators and Snyder participated in a ceremonial presentation of the bills establishing the Superior Trade Zone during a public gathering at the Delta County Historical Museum Thursday afternoon.
Snyder closed his luncheon remarks by saying everyone has to keep working together to continue to improve Michigan and look towards the future for generations to come.
"It's about our kids and our kids' kids," he said. "Those are the Yoopers I see."
During a brief question and answer session, Snyder addressed concerns about roads, voter approval of Proposal One, and what it takes to be governor.
"Be honest... Solve problems and don't let political junk mess you up," he commented.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org