LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has reiterated her previous plans to deliver millions in funding from the state of Michigan towards restoring operations to the Selfridge Air Base in Harrison Township.  

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In her second letter to the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall III earlier this month, she requested funding for the base while promising to deliver state funds to make the investment easier. 

“I repeat my commitment to funding upgrades, which would significantly reduce the cost to the Air Force by almost $100 million,” Whitmer’s letter said, “I look forward to sharing more with you about the next steps in this commitment as we solidify our state budget in the next few weeks.”   

According to the Detroit News, the governor’s office confirmed Monday that her nearly $100 million pledge, which would have to be approved by the Democrat Majority Legislature, is part of an ongoing effort to acquire more funding from the Biden administration in the hopes of bringing in new fighter jets to replace the fleet of A-10 Warthog planes. 

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“The Michigan National Guard and their families make so many sacrifices to keep us safe and we have to have their backs,” Whitmer said in a statement. “That’s why we are calling on the Biden administration to give Selfridge a new fighter mission and recapitalize the one they are taking away. Getting this done will secure good-paying jobs in Macomb County and ensure our military families can stay in Michigan. We all want to build on Michigan’s defense industry leadership and we must get this done.” 

Previously, Senator Kevin Hertel (D) St. Clair Shores, representative from the area which includes Selfridge, and Chairman of the Military and Veterans Affairs/State Police Appropriations Subcommittee has voiced his support of more funding for the base. 

“I’m thankful that the governor sees this as an important topic for the state of Michigan and is leaning in to advocate on behalf of us for this state with the federal government,” Senator Hertel said later adding, “I believe there is a huge opportunity, we have a large aerospace and defense sector here in the state, but really in my backyard, in Macomb County right now.  There is a massive opportunity to grow that industry in the state.”   

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There are currently more than 4,000 businesses involved with the defense and aerospace industries in Michigan, providing nearly 166,000 jobs according to the Governor’s office. 

The base has housed and trained thousands of pilots and other military members in its more than 100 year history, including the World War 1 aerial aces ‘First Pursuit Group, the 332nd Fighter group ‘the Tuskegee Airmen’, and many other decorated servicemen and women.  Considered a Michigan Historic Site, the base boasts its nickname “Home of Generals” because it has been a springboard to success in the careers of 145 Air Force Generals, and its namesake, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, the nation’s first military pilot and casualty of powered flight after dying from injuries sustained from his 1908 flight alongside Orville Wright.