(From l-r) Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich; Adrian Walker, director of Government Affairs & Community Relations; Group VP DeAndra McCain; CEO Tim Herman; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; COO Kristina Johnston; Tyler Rossmaessler, director of Economic Development

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Feb. 19 stopped by the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce to learn more about what’s happening in our region, as part of her “Home for Opportunity” tour across east Michigan.

Whitmer, who spent much of the meeting talking about the importance of higher education and its relationship to the continued economic growth of Michigan, discussed her aggressive goal for boosting post-secondary education attainment in the state. As of 2016, only 44 percent of residents had a higher-education credential. She wants 60 percent of Michiganders to have a post-secondary degree or skills certification by 2030.

To achieve this goal, Whitmer announced three pathways for residents.

  • Michigan Reconnect: For Michiganders 25 and older looking to take the next step in their careers and displaced workers trying to re-enter the workforce. The tuition-free program will train adults seeking an in-demand industry certificate or associate's degree. Modeled after a similar program in Tennessee launched last year, Michigan Reconnect will also connect businesses to qualified candidates for the growing numbers of jobs that are unfilled.
  • MI Opportunity Scholarship (Pathway I): For graduating high school students looking to continue education but not at a four-year institution. The program will offer two years of debt-free community college for all high school students who qualify. This scholarship will launch this spring and be available for students in fall 2020.
  • MI Opportunity Scholarship (Pathway II): For graduating high school seniors who are continuing post-secondary education at four-year college or university. The average cost of tuition is $22,000 a year in Michigan – the 10th highest in the nation. The MI Opportunity Scholarship will provide two years of tuition assistance at a four-year, not-for-profit institution for seniors who graduate from a Michigan high school with at least a cumulative GPA 3.0.

Representing the Chamber were: CEO Tim Herman; COO Kristina Johnston; Group Vice President DeAndra McCain; Tyler Rossmaessler, director of Economic Development; and Adrian Walker, director of Government Affairs and Community Relations. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, was also present.