Granholm’s efforts to create jobs, diversify economy set agenda in 2008

Published 1:24 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008

By Staff
LANSING – During her traditional end-of-year discussion with reporters, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm Monday said that the critical importance of her administration's efforts to diversify the state's economy and create jobs was reinforced by the national recession and automotive industry crisis.
The governor said that her administration continued to make progress in four priority areas: creating jobs, making health care more affordable and accessible, providing every child with a quality education and maintaining safe places for families to live, work and play.
"The economic crises of 2008, including the severe challenges of the automotive industry, should serve as a stark reminder that we must diversify Michigan's economy, create jobs and protect our citizens," Granholm said.
"This year, we showed that even in the toughest economic times, when we work together, we can move Michigan forward."
Granholm highlighted several key steps that her administration took this year to diversify the economy, including: passage of the energy legislation, creating thousands of new jobs in targeted sectors of the economy and continuing to provide critical services to citizens during this time of economic challenge.
"Michigan's commitment to creating jobs in growing sectors, including new energy jobs, is producing results across the state," Granholm said. "In 2009, we must do even more to attract these good-paying jobs to our state."
Granholm outlined additional successes in 2008, including:
1. Diversifying the economy to create a job for every worker.
Proposed, fought for and signed into law energy legislation, mandating that 10 percent of the state's energy come from renewable sources, helping create new energy jobs.
The governor's Centers of Energy Excellence are further accelerating new energy job creation by connecting six growing companies involved in advanced battery and alternative fuel development with research universities and government.
Created more than 105,000 jobs in 2008, including more than 60 percent in the targeted sectors of alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and homeland security.
In 2007, the governor created the Defense Contract Coordination Center (DC3) through the 21st Century Jobs Fund to increase federal government contracting opportunities for Michigan companies. In just one year, DC3 exceeded its goal of more than doubling the contracts won – $755 million in contracts that will help create nearly 6,000 new jobs.
At the governor's insistence, the Legislature passed new incentives to insure that Michigan is the center of U.S. efforts to develop batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles, which are currently only manufactured overseas.
The governor's No Worker Left Behind initiative has helped more than 50,000 displaced workers prepare for new careers by enrolling in training in just over one year.
Michigan's film and movie-making economic development program, the most aggressive in the nation, increased motion picture production. To date, the state has received 215 proposals and approved 71 projects, which will add more than $430 million to the state's economy.
Granholm continued her "go anywhere and do anything" commitment to bring jobs to Michigan, traveling to Japan, Israel and Jordan in 2008. To date, the governor's seven international jobs missions have resulted in 43 companies announcing more than $955 million in new investment and more than 10,700 jobs created and retained.
2. Providing a quality education for every child.
Granholm proposed and won funding for the 21st Century Schools Fund to help school districts replace large high schools with low academic achievement and high dropout rates with small high schools that use relationships, discipline and relevance to help at-risk kids achieve.
Four more revolutionary new "early college" high schools will open this year, giving students the opportunity to prepare for careers in health care. These four schools will join the six early college high schools which opened last year, creating relevancy for students looking for hands-on experience.
Despite severe budgetary challenges, Granholm was able to push spending for K-12 education to an all-time high.
The governor also proposed and secured additional funding for early childhood education, giving 2,800 additional 4-year-olds access to quality preschool.
Granholm will soon sign legislation she proposed to help other communities create Kalamazoo Promise-like scholarship opportunities.
3. Making health care affordable and accessible for every family.
In 2008, Granholm continued her fight to make health care affordable and accessible to every citizen. Medicaid caseloads increased by an average of 43,000 per month over the course of fiscal year 2008. Despite the economic challenges of this rising demand, no citizen was refused state-sponsored health care this year.
The Granholm administration's commitment to provide seniors the care they need in their own homes continues to expand care options and save money. In 2008, more than 500 citizens were transitioned from nursing homes to community living. Since 2003, Michigan has reduced nursing home use by 1.1 million days, saving more than $100 million annually.
The governor proposed and received additional funding for the Michigan Nursing Corps, which is already training more than 100 nurse educators and clinical instructors to meet rising demand. Since 2004, administration efforts to address the nursing shortage have helped add more than 9,300 nurses in Michigan.
4. Protecting our families and our quality of life.
Granholm signed the Great Lakes Compact to set standards for sustainable water use and to prevent large scale withdrawals and diversions outside our region. The compact, which has been ratified by Congress and signed by President Bush, makes Michigan a world leader in the scientific management of water.
The Department of Corrections expanded the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI) to reduce recidivism in our prisons. The program was expanded to all 83 counties in 2008 and has reduced the recidivism rate by one third.
As gas prices spiked to more than $4 per gallon, Michigan Department of Agriculture inspectors worked harder to insure that motorists received the quantity and the quality of gasoline they expected. Thanks to their hard work, 92 percent of gas pump meters now comply with state regulations, up from 79 percent just four years ago.
Granholm's Cities of Promise initiative continued to revitalize Michigan's urban centers this year, including the Blight Elimination Program, which exceeded its goal of eliminating more than 1,500 blighted properties in 2008.
Michigan State Police and the Department of Corrections continued their efforts to track down fugitives and sex offenders not in compliance with the law.
Through ongoing Project SAFE Streets and Operation Verify sweeps, 810 fugitives and 270 sex offenders were arrested in 2008.