ESCANABA - Gov. Rick Snyder brought his message of where the state of Michigan needs to go in the future to the Governor's Luncheon at the Upper Peninsula State Fair Wednesday.
Snyder spoke on the progress Michigan has made since 2009, but noted there is still work to be done.
"We are the comeback state of the nation," he said. "If you just go back to 2009, we were at the bottom of the 50 states. We're the comeback state today in terms of improvements in unemployment and improvements in income. Population is growing again, homes are starting to sell again. But what I want to tell you is we shouldn't be complacent nor content with what's been achieved.
During his visit to the U.P. State Fair Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder visited the U.P. Steam and Gas Engine Association’s Antique Village. Above, Snyder speaks with Ann Jousma Miller, left, and Midge Dutton in the General Store. (Daily Press photo by Holly Richer)
We still have many people out there struggling and so we need to continue on this path of reinventing our state in a positive, constructive way."
Snyder shared his vision of Michigan's 10 million people working together as a team, or family, using common sense to solve problems moving forward.
One of the areas he highlighted for improvement was job creation.
"We have created lots of jobs. Since 2009, it's about 250,000 private sector jobs across the state, but we need to do more," said Snyder, pointing out government does not create jobs, but only the environment for success.
Rather than bringing jobs into the state by offering tax breaks to companies who come to Michigan, he believes jobs should come from Michiganders building their business or starting a new one.
"The second thing is we have such talent in our state but we need to do a better job of connecting our talented people with careers," said Snyder. The key here is getting the private sector more involved by determining future job needs.
The state has overlooked the skilled trades, according to Snyder, and though emphasizing the need for students attending colleges and universities is important, the state must also promote opportunities in agriculture, mining, manufacturing and the timber industry.
Education is another area to look at moving forward; Snyder specifically discussed early childhood education and college.
He noted there has been an approximate 29,000 student waiting list for pre-school, which must be addressed since one of the biggest factors for success in life is being able to read by third grade.
"One of the things we're doing in this year's budget and next year's budget is making that waiting list go away so all kids have an opportunity for a quality pre-school experience in the state of Michigan," said Snyder. "That's an investment that will pay dividends and results and rewards for decades to come."
Snyder noted college is too expensive and needs to be made more affordable. His desire is to have more students involved in dual enrollment in the state, where they receive both high school and college credit at the same time.
"If you can complete one year of college while you're still in high school, what does that do to our future?" asked Snyder. "If you're going off to community college...you've reduced that cost by half. If you're going to a university, your drop is 25 percent. That's the best deal you're going to find, folks."
The final area Snyder highlighted was having good government, expressing the importance of being financially responsible and putting forth financially smart plans for Michiganders in the future.
"These four things are huge opportunities for Michigan's future," said Snyder. "By following through, by staying focused, by solving those problems, we have a tremendously bright future."
Snyder also answered questions from the crowd on education, healthcare, and road funding, and met with the Daily Press for a one-on-one interview during his visit.
One topic discussed was his proposed trail from Ironwood to Belle Isle and whether or not a southern Upper Peninsula route for the trail would be part of the discussion. Snyder feels both a northern and southern U.P. route could exist together.
"My view is if people are so excited about this trail, which I think is exciting, let's just make more trail. If there's going to be a northern route and a southern route, I think that's great because, again, that's part of giving people options. That gives people another reason to come back and do the other part of the route," said Snyder.
He also spoke on the success of the Pure Michigan campaign after what he feels was a successful winter, spring and summer season.
"The weather hasn't been quite as good in a couple of cases but, overall, I think people are very pleased with the program and we're continuing to expand," he said. "Expanding internationally is one of the important options because there are many international travelers that come to the U.S. and too many of them simply go to the East Coast and West Coast. We've got Pure Michigan. Let's get them here."
Snyder also said recent news about the city of Detroit filing for bankruptcy was the right decision and that Detroit can rebound because the city has many great things happening.
"Really one of the last obstacles to seeing a very strong comeback in Detroit is the lack of city services and the challenge with the city government," he said. "By filing bankruptcy, this is our chance to get improved services to the people of Detroit and resolve the debt question that has been a crushing load on them, so we'll get those resolved and I think it really positions Detroit to be on the comeback path, which is what we all want to see happen."
When asked about whether he will seek re-election in 2014, Snyder said he has not formally announced his plans.
"It's always good to ask, but no - no formal announcement. I'm honored being governor and there are many more things I think we need to do," said Snyder.
But one thing is for certain - his picks to win the Super Bowl and World Series.
"Lions," he answered. "After all these years, and the Tigers in the World Series. They're having a little slump right now, but they were on a roll."