Oakland Press: Goodbye rust belt; welcome to the new ‘tech belt’

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Several years ago, Michigan started coming out of the “Lost Decade” — a time in which our job numbers plummeted and residents fled the state. Today, as we look back at the beginning of that turnaround, we can count seven straight years of economic recovery.

More than 500,000 Michigan jobs have been added since 2010. That makes us the top Great Lakes state for job creation. In addition, Michigan is the number one state in the nation for creating manufacturing jobs. In May, the jobless rate came in at 4.2 percent — the lowest in nearly 17 years.

More people are finding work and calling Michigan home. Our turnaround has led to five consecutive years of population growth after years of decline. Michigan truly is the Comeback State, and people are beginning to return.

There is good reason to do so. Workers are earning more as personal income growth climbs and home values rise.

In Lansing, we finalized the state’s budget months ahead of schedule for the seventh straight year. Our plan balances the books while focusing on issues important to Michigan families. Top priorities include more funding for K-12 education, increased funding for public safety, more money to support military veterans, increased support for worker training, and increased investments to fix Michigan’s roads.

Michigan is no longer in the heart of the rust belt. We are increasingly becoming known as the “tech belt.” An example of our growing technological expertise and presence are new laws that allow expanded “real world” testing of autonomous vehicles and enable the creation of a mobility research center at the old Willow Run factory site for advanced research and development.

I was happy to be the lead sponsor of this legislation. Many states and countries are competing for a leading role in the development of this technology. These laws will keep Michigan at the cutting edge of automotive innovation and manufacturing so the future of transportation remains here in our state, and they will help ensure we remain the world leader in the auto industry.

We have much to celebrate, and others are taking notice. Nationally, Michigan is making news as we join the ranks of top states in scorecards on economic climate, opportunity, job growth and innovation potential. We are making steady progress in our quest to become a top-tier, jobs-first state, yet there is still much work to be done.

I will continue to work hard so we can keep the positive momentum going and build a stronger future for us all — those who remained here during the tough times and those who are now returning.

This column appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Spinal Column: Goodbye rust belt; welcome to the new ‘tech belt’

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Several years ago, Michigan started coming out of the “Lost Decade” — a time in which our job numbers plummeted and residents fled the state. Today, as we look back at the beginning of that turnaround, we can count seven straight years of economic recovery.

More than 500,000 Michigan jobs have been added since 2010. That makes us the top Great Lakes state for job creation. In addition, Michigan is the number one state in the nation for creating manufacturing jobs. In May, the jobless rate came in at 4.2 percent — the lowest in nearly 17 years.

More people are finding work and calling Michigan home. Our turnaround has led to five consecutive years of population growth after years of decline. Michigan truly is the Comeback State, and people are beginning to return.

There is good reason to do so. Workers are earning more as personal income growth climbs and home values rise.

In Lansing, we finalized the state’s budget months ahead of schedule for the seventh straight year. Our plan balances the books while focusing on issues important to Michigan families. Top priorities include more funding for K-12 education, increased funding for public safety, more money to support military veterans, increased support for worker training, and increased investments to fix Michigan’s roads.

Michigan is no longer in the heart of the rust belt. We are increasingly becoming known as the “tech belt.” An example of our growing technological expertise and presence are new laws that allow expanded “real world” testing of autonomous vehicles and enable the creation of a mobility research center at the old Willow Run factory site for advanced research and development.

I was happy to be the lead sponsor of this legislation. Many states and countries are competing for a leading role in the development of this technology. These laws will keep Michigan at the cutting edge of automotive innovation and manufacturing so the future of transportation remains here in our state, and they will help ensure we remain the world leader in the auto industry.

We have much to celebrate, and others are taking notice. Nationally, Michigan is making news as we join the ranks of top states in scorecards on economic climate, opportunity, job growth and innovation potential. We are making steady progress in our quest to become a top-tier, jobs-first state, yet there is still much work to be done.

I will continue to work hard so we can keep the positive momentum going and build a stronger future for us all — those who remained here during the tough times and those who are now returning.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Save the Date: Kowall and Hune announce event honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Joe Hune on Friday announced a formal Vietnam veteran lapel pinning ceremony on Saturday, July 22 during the Vetstock music festival in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, is hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Fowlerville to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. A representative from Hune’s office also will be in attendance. Kowall encourages all interested residents and veterans to join him in paying tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.

Kowall said the event, made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration and in conjunction with the Agent Orange Riders, will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, at 10520 Iosco Road, in Fowlerville.

RSVP is preferred but not mandatory. Email Gregor at waynewn6@gmail.com or call 248-904-3500.

The Agent Orange Riders are based out of the Heart of the Lakes VFW Post 1008 in Waterford. They conduct research on the possible generational effects of Agent Orange used in Vietnam. Vetstock is the organization’s inaugural music festival held to support veterans.

Kowall will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location. Danielle Blanchard will perform the national anthem.

The symbolism attached to the lapel pin is significant, Kowall said.

“The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

The Commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense, and then formally launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war. Recognition is given to these heroes when commemorative partners, such as Kowall, hold events for the veterans and their families.

“Michigan’s Vietnam veterans, whether drafted or enlisted, served our country with honor. Tragically, too many returned home with little thanks for their service and not much help transitioning to civilian life,” Kowall said. “This ceremony is a way to recognize veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”

Hune agreed.

“It is an honor and a privilege for my office to be able to help host a ceremony honoring these heroes who risked all for our country in Vietnam,” said Hune, R-Fowlerville. “The pins we present them are but a small token of our gratitude for their sacrifice on behalf of our nation.”

Kowall has held numerous events, in both Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars/American Legion posts, veteran memorial parks and banquet halls. Kowall often partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.