Michigan’s comeback story is more than noteworthy economic statistics and trends. It’s about changing lives for the better.
An important part of that is helping people [such as Travis Butler; see his Next America interview] who have long been unable to get a job or to obtain the skills they need to find gainful employment.
That’s key. Traditional federal workforce programs focus on training that often has little or no connection to the skills employers need or to real jobs. Here in Michigan, we’re flipping that around with a program called Community Ventures where we work directly with employers to ensure that program participants gain high-demand skills and real jobs that set them on a sustainable path to independence.
Michigan boasts a talented and educated workforce. But too many in our state face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to full-time employment, such as a lack of education, job experience, and necessary reading, writing, and technical skills.
Our Community Ventures program works with public and private partners to remove those barriers and provide the tools people need to grow and thrive.
Two years ago, my administration sought partners to create opportunities for these people living in four of our state’s most economically distressed communities: Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, and Saginaw.
Community Ventures, administered through the Michigan Economic Development Corp., teams with Michigan Works!, Goodwill, Focus Hope, and others to match eligible employees with employers, who receive a wage reimbursement incentive of up to $5,000 for each employee.
The new employees receive mentoring, literacy support, financial literacy guidance, on-the-job training, and other help so they can improve professionally and develop employment history.
The program works.
Since the program started in autumn 2012, we’ve placed 1,200 people, earning an average of more than $11.50 an hour. Nearly all of the newly employed are from households living below the poverty level. More than 80 percent of employees hired are retained by employers, who offer new workers job coaching, transportation, child-care assistance, and adult-education courses.
About half the participants are women; 13 percent have a criminal records; 4 percent are veterans; and 3 percent are people with disabilities.
With full-time employment comes a greater degree of independence. Ultimately, workers employed with the help of Community Ventures will rely less on public services such as food and housing assistance, subsidized child care and Medicaid.
Lessening the tax burden on businesses and creating a business-friendly environment are just a few reasons Michigan’s economy has recovered the most from the Great Recession. The state’s unemployment rate has fallen from 14.2 to the current 8.4 percent.
Clearly, in these challenging times, innovation isn’t used solely in the domain of economics. Working together with business and nonprofits, the innovative Community Ventures program is making sure the Michigan Comeback includes all Michigan residents.
# # #
Rick Snyder is Michigan’s 48th governor. He is serving his first term as the state chief executive. You can reach his office at 517-335-7858 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find him online at Facebook.com/GovernorRickSnyder or Twitter.com/OneToughNerd.
What We're Following See More »
The Supreme Court announced "that it would consider a challenge to President Trump’s latest effort to limit travel from countries said to pose a threat to the nation’s security." The case concerns Trump's most recent attempt to make good on a campaign promise "tainted by religious animus" and only questionably justified by national security concerns. The decision to take the case, called Trump v. Hawaii, comes almost exactly a year after Trump issued the first travel ban. The ban under consideration affects Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea.
Trump wants to move the two grants, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant and the Drug Free Communities Act, to the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, respectively. This would result in a $300 million plus reduction in funding, about 95 percent of the cost of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "'I’m baffled at the idea of cutting the office or reducing it significantly and taking away its programs in the middle of an epidemic,'" said Regina LaBelle, who served as ONDCP chief of staff during the Obama administration. This is the second time the Trump Administration has proposed gutting the agency.
A new report assembled by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has identified more than 500 potential conflicts of interest in President Trump's first year. First, the report notes, Trump spent 122 days at his properties during his first year. He has been accompanied by 70 federal officials and 30 members of Congress. "Second, far from this signaled access to power being an empty promise, those who patronize President Trump’s businesses have, in fact, gained access to the president and his inner circle." Lastly, about 40 special interest groups and 11 foreign governments have held events at Trump properties.