Gov. Rick Snyder brought his message of “Relentless Positive Action” with him when he attended the region’s most prestigious gathering of community leaders last week.
The region’s village, city, township and county leaders were joined by numerous state officials for the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance’s (NLEA) annual luncheon on Friday April 11 at North Central Michigan College.
“We’ve come a long way and that’s something we shouldn’t forget,” Snyder said of the State of Michigan. “If you go back to 2009 we were in an environment where we were suffering. We were largely a broken state. And, the issue is, what do you do when you face a crisis like that? You can complain about it, you can blame people … some people actually just left.”
He added, “The good part is we had a conviction to say we can reinvent ourselves. We know we have greatness in us. We’ve done it before.”
Snyder also mentioned his slogan “Relentless Positive Action,” saying that it means avoiding fighting with and blaming others or worrying about getting credit for work accomplished.
“Think about the federal government: what would happen in Washington if they all agreed to say they wouldn’t fight with one another, they wouldn’t blame anyone and they wouldn’t take credit?” Snyder said. “I bet a whole lot would get done … and that’s what we’re doing here in Michigan.”
Snyder said the state has made a tremendous comeback, both further and faster than any other state.
“Last year we had the ninth fastest growing per capita income in the United States,” he said. “Good things are going on but what I can tell you is we should not be complacent nor content with what’s happened. In fact, the attitude is we need to accelerate now that we’re seeing this success.”
Snyder said one of the important things that needs to be remembered is why government exists.
“It’s simple: we’re here to serve you,” Snyder said. “We’re here to work with the 10 million people of Michigan and the organizations in our state, and to give you efficient, effective and accountable government.”
Snyder said government’s job is to help create the environment for free enterprise to work.
“Government’s role is not to create the job—we’d be terrified if all of us worked for the State of Michigan,” Snyder said. “We’re here to create that environment of success in terms of a tax system that’s simple, fair and efficient; in terms of a regulatory system that’s streamlined and treats people as customers; that deals with balancing budgets.”
Snyder said all public officials should be able to answer the question of how much long-term debt the government has, and when it will be paid off.
Snyder also talked about the importance of products being made and grown in Michigan and marketed to other states, regions and countries.
Prior to Snyder’s address, a presentation was given on the history and mission of the NLEA.
“Who would have thought 30 years ago, when Antrim and Charlevoix Counties got together and said ‘Hey, let’s try out this partnership thing’ … the idea would have grown into this?” said NLEA President Andy Hayes, who added that Emmet County quickly joined and several years ago Cheboygan County joined…. “This is just absolutely amazing. I look out in the audience and I see both public and private sector working together, local state and federal, and that’s really … the secret sauce in what we do. We figured out that there’s many many people and organizations out there that all have a common goal and that goal is to help entrepreneurs create jobs. And, if we all work together, it all works.”
Hayes said the NLEA’s mission of helping entrepreneurs maintain and create jobs has not changed over the last three decades.
“Now, over the last 30 years, as the economy has changed, our strategies may have adjusted … but it’s really all about helping that entrepreneur create and retain jobs,” he said.
Hayes also said having a strong entrepreneurial base is vital to a strong economy.
“Economic development is regional. What happens in one community affects another,” he said. “In fact, we know for a fact—we’ve studied this—in our four counties, four out of 10 people live in one county and work in another. So, whatever happens—good or bad—in one area certainly affects the other.”
Hayes also touched on manufacturing during his presentation.
“Manufacturing has changed—it’s different,” he said. “Manufacturing is not what it used to be or your old stereotype. Manufacturing is very high-tech. There are great jobs in manufacturing.”
Hayes then showed the contest-winning video created by Char-Em ISD students at the Boyne City High School video imaging class which featured modern manufacturing.
The luncheon culminated in an awards ceremony which recognized several people and organizations throughout the four-county region.
Those recognized included Northwest Michigan Council of Governments Executive Director of Regional Planning Matt McCauley, the numerous partners who helped make the new mobile fabrication lab a reality, the Borisch family for their Walloon Lake development, a Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Dean Carper, Tom and Marilyn Moran of Onaway were recognized for their long-time work at Moran Iron Works, Joseph Moch of ACAT Global was recognized for his efforts in bringing jobs to Charlevoix, and Andy Hayes was also recognized for his efforts with the NLEA with a special plaque.