DAVOS, Switzerland (MIRS News) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told a manufacturing panel at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, that Michigan is open for business.
Whitmer sat on the “The Return of Manufacturing” panel with Saudi Arabian Industry Minister Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef, Siemens AG President and CEO Roland Busch, Singapore Economic Development Board Chair Jacqueline Poh, and Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris.
“Come to Michigan. There’s so much exciting work that is happening in the state. Phenomenal research universities, high quality of life, low cost of living and we really are changing the future of mobility in all ways possible,” she said.
She touted Michigan’s history of manufacturing and told the crowd that the state is starting to onboard semiconductor and chip manufacturing, along with pushing the boundaries of battery technology.
“We’re poised to lead as we look to electrification of all things, whether it’s maritime, aerospace or traditional mobility,” Whitmer said.
The Governor told the moderator that there is “an eye toward equitable growth” as the state moves into the advanced manufacturing sector, which would boost the middle class workforce.
She said she believes the governments have a role in creating the opportunities to bring the money to the state.
“One of the things I think is really important, and a lot of people don’t appreciate about Michigan right now, is we’ve got the number one economy for clean energy jobs in the country,” she said.
One of the ways to capitalize on that is through “upskilling the current population.” She said Michigan has partnered with the World Economic Forum to create the U.S. Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Troy, which is near Detroit.
Whitmer said folks need to get re-educated on the new high-tech manufacturing fields. The jobs don’t look or feel like the manufacturing jobs of old.
“I think that there still is an outdated assumption about what manufacturing means. That it’s dirty and it’s physical and in ways that isn’t really reflective of how things work nowadays,” she said.
Several legislators with the Freedom Caucus said they were concerned that the Governor’s stop in Davos would be more harmful to the state’s economy because it would lead to more taxpayer-funded handouts to corporations.
“This is another example of an unfair playing field set out by the Governor, where certain politically connected groups reap financial rewards while their competitors don’t,” Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) said.
Michigan Chamber of Commerce President Jim Holcomb said it was “a very good thing” for the state to have someone on the international stage and raise the visibility for everyone.
“I think the important message is to convey to people around the world that Michigan is open for business,” Holcomb said.
He said any jobs brought back would be a win for the state.
“We’re always enthusiastic cheerleaders for the state of Michigan, and whenever our leaders can be out there, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, we should be happy that Governor Whitmer is out there and being a champion,” Holcomb said.