Gov. Gretchen Whitmer seems to love traveling through Macomb County to talk about economic development. Or maybe she loves the fanfare and news coverage those trips generate.
The contrast between the hoopla and the reality of this administration’s commitment to our community is stark. For all the news releases and press conferences promising investment, the governor’s administration has very quietly decided to eliminate the Michigan Defense Center location in Sterling Heights — despite a $5 million appropriation in the latest state budget.
This center serves as an important nexus for our local defense industry, a sector that significantly contributes to the region’s economic vitality and has also been instrumental in securing thousands of federal contracts for Michigan businesses.
Given the center’s importance to both America’s military preparedness and southeast Michigan’s economy, the recent decision to forgo the appointment of an executive director and eliminate its location in Sterling Heights is a disturbing development. It raises serious questions about the governor’s commitment to our military, local economy and the center’s future.
Leadership in any organization is not merely a managerial function; it encompasses vision, strategy and the capacity for decisive action in a volatile environment.
In a sector where timing and precision are paramount, refusing to hire an executive director will make the difference between success and failure.
The lack of an accountable leader located on the ground will also hamper the Michigan Defense Center’s work with federal agencies and defense contractors. The center competes nationally for federal funding and contracts. In this competitive space, the absence of an executive director and location on the ground will be seen as the center being unserious and incapable, jeopardizing future opportunities.
The administration’s decision comes when the defense and automotive industries are undergoing significant transformation. Technological advancements, shifts in geopolitical priorities and the ongoing ramifications of the pandemic are altering the sector’s landscape. The center requires a location and leadership capable of navigating these complexities and positioning the organization for long-term success.
For America’s military preparedness, Michigan’s economy and our future, the Michigan Defense Center needs the Sterling Heights location and the leadership team it was promised.
We’ve heard enough talk about economic development from the Whitmer administration. Now, we need more consistency between its rhetoric and actions.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Tom Kuhn is the State Representative for Michigan’s 57th District. He represents portions of Sterling Heights, Troy and Madison Heights. Alicia St. Germaine is the State Representative for Michigan’s 62nd District. She represents portions of Chesterfield Township, Clinton Township, Roseville, St. Clair Shores, and all of Fraser, and Harrison Township.
“Today, the state continued to embrace a broken budgeting process that leaves the public confused and left behind. We participate in these meetings where leaders glaze over huge issues that sound nice on paper but make little sense when you dig into the details. Our budgeting process needs a complete overhaul so we can start focusing more on the details and less on fancy buzzwords.”
“The most important focus for our community colleges should be student success,” Kuhn said. “Unfortunately, too many students graduate from our high schools with insufficient skills to successfully complete two years of community college. We want to assure that all students who have access to community college, also have access to be successful at the community college level. I don’t see any commitment in the Governor’s State of the State that addresses the need for student success.”
“All of our state government needs to be subject to FOIA requests, plain and simple,” said Kuhn, R-Troy. “There are two states in our country that exempt their Legislature and governor from FOIA requests, and we’re one of them. This lack of transparency and accountability is completely unacceptable. Our plan allows for added public oversight of all government and increases penalties for non-compliant public bodies.”
“Families entrust these state-run facilities with the care of their vulnerable loved ones, and they deserve complete transparency if there has been any negligence on the part of the state,” said Kuhn, R-Troy. “The OAG audit will unseal any bad practices and allow the Legislature to have a wholistic view of how these facilities operate. Elected officials have a duty to step in and take corrective action if the facility is giving families in our community substandard care. This audit is the first step in that process.”