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UP business leaders give opinions on how to spend American Rescue Plan money

Last month, Governor Whitmer announced her plan to spend $2.1 billion
Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - State leaders are pushing for a multi-billion dollar spending plan that hopes to grow our economy.

With billions of federal coronavirus relief dollars flowing into Michigan, state leaders are figuring how to spend it. Michigan is set to receive $6.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan. Last month, Governor Whitmer announced her plan to spend $2.1 billion

The ‘MI New Economy Plan’ would spend $722 million to grow the middle class and educate workers, $651 million to support small businesses and create jobs, and $800 million to improve things like housing in our communities.

U.P. leaders from universities, colleges and businesses made their pitch to the state about what we need the most.

“Grateful for some of the tenants of it and at the end of the day we really want to see some Upper Peninsula-centric ideas embraced in it as well,” said Marty Fittante, Invest UP CEO.

Fittante says this plan can help the U.P. try to reverse its shrinking population.

On Friday, Upper Peninsula leaders were focused on childcare, housing and broadband internet.

“If we can get a head start on those three issues with what we have with institutional partners, the universities, the community colleges, what we are seeing with tourism there’s absolutely an opportunity for growth for us in this,” said Fittante.

The plan includes goals from the state to have 60 percent of adults with a postsecondary education by 2030, get the entire state access to high-speed internet and make Michigan a top state for small businesses.

“We know that small businesses in Michigan employ 1.9 million of our citizens. We want to provide support. It may be in the way of small-dollar grants,” said Susan Corbin, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director.

One of the state’s top economic advisers asked U.P. leaders to advocate to local lawmakers about the plan.

“We want to rise above the politics. There’s really good policy here,” said Fittante. “There is really good policy you heard around the table.”

Governor Whitmer’s administration says it will listen to other communities across the state before trying to get approval from the Republican-controlled legislature which will likely have its own spending ideas.

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