DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday kicked off a two-day meeting with business, academic and government leaders to develop new ways to boost job growth and connect Michigan residents to jobs.
The Republican governor is on Detroit for the opening session of an economic summit at Cobo Center. Planned to speak at the event are Business Leaders for Michigan President and Chief Executive Doug Rothwell and Michigan Economic Development Corp. chief Michael Finney.
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Snyder has said the event aims to challenge leaders “to focus on new ways of providing meaningful job opportunities.”
As the meeting got underway inside Cobo — protesters marched outside.
Chuck Tindall, with “We Are Michigan,” said his group is upset about Snyder’s policies.
“Number one being that he’s anti-union, but also that my pension is being taxed,” Tindall told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Vickie Thomas. “I had retired early because of the bad economy, and having my pension taxed was not in my long-range plan at that time.”
Tindall said he’s considering moving to a state that’s more tax-friendly toward his pension.
Angela Dusette carried a sign that read: “Don’t hurt working families.”
“Unions have made Detroit strong, and if they take that away from us we won’t have anything,” said Dusette. “Snyder said he wasn’t going to go this [pass right-to-work], and then he got into office and did this to us — and it’s just wrong. It’s just not right for Michigan. We’re trying to rebuild and it’s not going to help us rebuild.”
Protesters say Snyder put corporate interests above those of ordinary residents by cutting education funding, taxing pensions and shepherding through right-to-work legislation limiting unions’ power.
WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke Sunday with Rothwell, who said the summit will focus on solutions to the state’s growing talent needs.
“What were going to try to do is to support what the governor is trying to accomplish, which is to really match the available talent better with the available jobs that are in Michigan right now,” Rothwell told WWJ’s Ron Dewey.
“One of the things I’ll point out in my remarks is long term in Michigan — it really is the education shortage that’s going to become a bigger problem,” said Rothwell. “We have a lower number of people with some level of education beyond high school than the average state.”
Rothwell said it’s been difficult for older workers to readjust their whole career because of the recession. He said there will be thousands of jobs they won’t be able to fill in the future because those jobs will require some level of higher education.
“One of the things the governor is trying to do is to really … increase the amount of skills training programs that are available in the state to get people re-tooled for some of the jobs that exist,” Rothwell said.
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