Governor Gretchen Whitmer was in northern Michigan on Friday, meeting with local communities to see how the state can help rural Michigan thrive.
Gov. Whitmer made three stops: Fremont, Thompsonville and Honor, and at each one seeing how state projects have helped and where they have fallen short. It seemed like the same reasons keep coming up, rural broadband, equal schooling opportunities and affordable housing.
“We want to make sure that as we are recovering from the pan,” said Whitmer.
It’s a multi-faceted issue that was only exacerbated by the pandemic and disproportionately hit rural Michigan. Life went virtual, small businesses suffered, people left the workforce, here grew a massive lack of housing.
“There are a lot of jobs that are unfilled right now,” said Whitmer, “Because people need housing they go hand-in-hand.”
On her stops through Northern Michigan, Whitmer saw community leaders, small businesses and housing developers work for their communities.
“You know it’s not a one-size fits all situation on virtually anything,” said Whitmer.
Even among rural Michigan, the village of Honor has different needs than Frankfort. The state created the Office of Rural Development to help facilitate the unique needs for 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 get on the radar,” said Whitmer, “And can compete for resources.”
There is a massive amount of money available to spend and these problems aren’t new and that was another message Friday, Northern Michigan needs the help now.
“We can’t do it overnight and so we’ve got to be a little bit patient,” said Whitmer, “But man we got a lot of work to do. We got to work together to solve it.”