DETROIT (WWJ) – Gov. Rick Snyder was in Detroit on Wednesday to sign a number of bills that he says will help the Motor City.

Dozens of anti-right-to-work protesters from the group Good Jobs Now greeted the “tough nerd” chanting, “We are the union!” outside the D:hive welcome center on Woodward Ave.

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Inside, WWJ Newsradio 950’s Stephanie Davis reported a light and festive mood as Snyder signed four pieces of legislation that, according to the governor’s office, are “aimed at investing in and strengthening Detroit and the southeast Michigan region.”

The bills create a Detroit lighting authority, a regional transit authority for Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties and allow Mike Ilitch’s companies to tap nearly $13 million in tax dollars for a $650 million entertainment district including a Red Wings arena, aling with housing, office and retail space.

Protesters march outside the D:hive in Detroit. (credit: WWJ/Stephanie Davis)

Protesters march outside the D:hive in Detroit. (credit: WWJ/Stephanie Davis)

A fourth bill will allow nonprofits such as Eastern Market to apply for federal grants and loans to help expand business.

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An upbeat Snyder was joined by a host of city, county and state elected officials as he addressed a crowd of reporters.

“Today we are ushering the region into a new era,” Snyder said. “Metro Detroit, including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties, is home to nearly half of Michigan’s population. Connecting people with safe, reliable and efficient transit will be instrumental to our ongoing economic comeback. It will provide opportunities for job providers, working families and our young people,” Snyder said.

“If you add all this up and we’re talking about million of dollars in investment; we’re talking about tens of thousands of jobs — not many better topics than that; so it’s very exciting to be here,” he said.

Snyder said he’s personally observed Detroit’s struggle with broken street lights, which he hopes will now be a thing of the past. “I was just going to an event two or three weeks ago in Detroit on a Saturday night, and I was on Jefferson. And we went down two or three miles down on Jefferson and the lights weren’t on, and that’s just not right.”

“This is a long-overdue solution that will get those lights turned back on while maintaining local control and protecting taxpayers, which is important,” Snyder said.

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Detroit has roughly 88,000 street lamps, about half of which the city estimates are in disrepair. The public lighting authority will concentrate first on restoring functional lighting near schools and population centers.