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Gov Wants $2.1B In Fed COVID Money For Job Training, Economic Development

August 31, 2021

A $2.1 billion chunk of the federal COVID-19 response money would go toward bolstering more small business jobs, help citizens get a free education and build some 2,000 new housing units to provide homes for 6,000 residents, under a Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposal laid out Monday.

The plan is to use federal stimulus money and inject it into current job-training programs, her Michigan Reconnect community college “last-dollar” program for those 25 and older, as well as local business grants and housing programs, among other things.

Whitmer appears more interested in putting dollars into existing programs as opposed to necessarily creating new ones.

“I’m announcing this $2.1 billion investment in our workers and our middle class, small business and job creation and our communities to address these challenges,” she told a group outside the Lansing City Market.

In sum, the programs will include $722 million to invest in the middle class, $651 million for more jobs in small businesses including high-tech and high-growth jobs. Then there’s another $800 million to invest in communities by spending $100 million to rehab buildings and more money to rehab brownfields in addition to the 2,000 new housing units.

There’s $50 million for apprentice programs, $39 million to help released prisoners find employment and she proposes to beef up her 60-by-30 post-secondary program, which includes the popular Reconnect program.

A new STEM internship program gets $11 million plus $40 million to expand the EV infrastructure system in Michigan, which aligns with President Joe Biden’s goal of 500,000 such electric charging stations nationwide.

“This is a monumental opportunity to accelerate talent development, job creation, and strengthen communities so that Michigan can emerge from the pandemic stronger and more competitive,” said Jeff Donofrio, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.

To the degree the Legislature signs off on these plans isn’t known. Legislative leaders are back working on the budget in earnest after taking much of the summer off.

The Senate isn’t scheduled to return to session this week after two of its vaccinated members came down with COVID-19.

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) applauded Whitmer for putting money into brownfield cleanup, clean energy improvements, a housing development fund and community revitalization.

“This summer, Michiganders have toughed out catastrophic flooding and power outages exacerbated by climate change and poor infrastructure,” reads Monday’s MEC press statement. “We shouldn’t have to, and Gov. Whitmer’s proposed ARP investments recognizes this. It gives us, our communities and our planet the financial and infrastructural support we need to flourish.”

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