MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ) – With so many new technologies — for example the 3-D printer emerging around the world — should there be worries about the future of the auto industry in Detroit?

That was one question posed by WWJ’s Tom Jordan and Roberta Jasina when they sat down Thursday morning with Gov. Rick Snyder at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

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“No,” Snyder said. “I think the auto industry has a great understanding, and I don’t think we give people in our own state enough credit. If you look at an auto today, it’s one of the highest tech vehicles you could ever find.

“… It’s not just about the sheet metal. That’s still really cool and important … but the electronics in a vehicle today, and the systems in a vehicle, are world-class; they’re top-notch,” the governor said.

“And so we should recognize that some of the greatest industrial R & D [research and development] going on in the world, right along with Google, is happening right here with the Big Three in Michigan, and a number of other companies.”

Asked about his track record for creating jobs in the state, Snyder said his job is not all about bringing in business.

“It’s actually what I call the concept of economic gardening,” Snyder said. “The best jobs are created by people already here that have existing businesses that are start-ups — and we’re seeing a lot of positive progress there. That’s going well.”

Snyder said Michigan created “an environment for success” that will attract news business as well.

“We were at the bottom of many states because of regulatory tax. Now we’re top-tier state in terms of creating a great environment — a fair environment,” Snyder said.

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The governor said he’s learned, in talking to the site selectors who do this for a living, Michigan was missing anywhere from one-third to one half of available business opportunities before the state passed right-to-work. Right to work makes all workplaces in the state “open shops” with no mandatory union membership or forced collection of union dues. Snyder and the Republican-led legislature pushed through right to work in a surprise move late last year, sparking public protests and outcry from Michigan’s powerful unions.

Right to work opponents say it will bring only low-paying jobs and force down wages across industries that previously enjoyed union protected wages and benefits.

But Snyder stands by right to work, saying it’s going to bring jobs to Michigan, “But it’s not going to be, you know, people standing up on top of the hill saying, ‘Hey! I came here because of this,” he said.

“They’re not going to say that they came to Michigan because of right to work because it wouldn’t make any sense from their point of view — because all they would do was make themselves a target for protesters,” he said.

Hear the complete interview:

[CLICK HERE to listen on your mobile device]

WWJ Newsradio 950′s Roberta Jasina, Tom Jordan, Vickie Thomas and Charlie Langton are on Mackinac Island covering the conference. Stay tuned for live broadcasts, Thursday and Friday.

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