Gilchrist: State Investment in Housing, Internet and Child Care Key to Northeast Michigan’s Growth | News, Sports, Jobs
ALPENA – Housing, child care and the availability of quality high-speed internet remain serious issues in northeast Michigan, but Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said the state of Michigan is ready to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in these problems to help rectify them.
While touring northeast Michigan on Thursday, Gilchrist answered questions from voters and updated them on what Lansing State officials are doing to address issues in remote counties in northeast Michigan. Michigan.
During a panel discussion at Hillman, Gilchrist spoke about the need to make fiber and quality internet service accessible to everyone. He said reliable and fast service is just as important as other utilities such as water, gas and electricity.
Gilchrist said Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has set lofty goals for increasing connectivity and he is confident — with buy-in from other private and public partners — that the goals can be achieved.
Last week, Gilchrist said, Whitmer signed into law the Building Michigan Together plan, which allocates $250 million to invest in fiber infrastructure in underserved areas. He said everyone needs quality internet service to thrive.
“Michigan may be the first major state to connect all of our residents online,” Gilchrist said. “This money is a down payment on it. We have set ourselves an ambitious goal. We want every household, 100% of Michigan households, to have access to it and 95% adopt it.
Gilchrist said Michigan’s new high-speed internet office is also working to provide programs for those struggling to afford internet service and to keep prices as low as possible.
“Making sure people can afford it is key to adoption,” he said.
During the roundtable, which was attended by leaders from local government, education, business and health, the topics of housing and childcare were also discussed.
Gilchrist said high-speed internet, quality and affordable housing and easy access to childcare services are essential to spur development and growth in rural areas.
“These are all things that we need to tackle at the same time, and each of them is mutually reinforcing,” Gilchrist said. “We want to invest in these three areas and that is why the budget we enacted last year, the appropriations we signed last week and the next budget will address these issues in more detail.”
Gilchrist received details of a proposed project in Lincoln that could lead to the construction of a new community center and 44 housing units for families and seniors.
Lenny Avery, executive director of the Alcona County Commission on Aging, said the project is ready to go, but the community and its partners need financial support to help cover the $31 million cost. of dollars.
Gilchrist said the plan aligns with those the state wants to financially support and funds for development projects are available, but, he said, adding more public and private partners will also help the project to become a reality.
“We’re going to start to see that money from things that we’ve been able to do, start flowing into communities,” Gilchrist said. “I think it will make a difference in a number of issues. The Build Michigan Together plan includes a $100 million investment in affordable housing and we believe this will leverage an additional $480 million in private investment. This means more money for new developments and rehabilitation.
Before heading to Iosco County, Gilchrist stopped at Alcona Community Schools where he visited with staff and students.
He chatted with members of the high school robotics team and reviewed the robot the students were preparing for the competition in Traverse City.
He visited the school’s Tea and Bean café and toured the FFA sugar shack, where students produce maple syrup.
Gilchrist said there has been a lot of investment in education and the Lincoln school is an example of that money paying dividends.
“I think that’s the type of educational environment and experience that we want to see available for students in every community,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist also spoke about how impressed he was with the school’s investment and focus on student mental health.
“We were fortunate to meet some of the mental and behavioral health professionals who work on campus, to serve the 700 students who attend the school here,” he said. “We think this school is a great role model and God knows the kids need support after everything we’ve been through. I think what was created at school is really a gem.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.