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From the Desk of Curtis Holt, Wyoming City Manager - West Michigan Policy Forum | News

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From the Desk of Curtis Holt, Wyoming City Manager - West Michigan Policy Forum
News, Politics
From the Desk of  Curtis Holt, Wyoming City Manager - West Michigan Policy Forum

From: http://www.wyomingmi.gov

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the West Michigan Policy Forum.  I would like to thank John Weiss and the Grand Valley Metro Council for this opportunity as they provided my “scholarship” for this event.  The West Michigan Policy Forum is a gathering of business leaders mainly from West Michigan designed to discuss improving the business climate, economy and general fiscal health of the State of Michigan.  Over two days they work to define policies and prioritize issues they feel are necessary to positively impact this process.  I also attended the original forum in 2008 and felt the information was presented in a similar manner seeking similar input.

From a City of Wyoming standpoint, my top conclusion was this:  We need to make it a Michigan priority to build the additional bridge to Canada, which will increase and approve trade efficiencies for West Michigan companies.  There have been numerous television ads both for and against the new bridge, so I am sure you are well aware of this topic.  During the course of the forum, we had the opportunity to hear from representatives of the Canadian Government and from members of our own state government, including Gov. Snyder, who discussed the importance of this crossing.  In all cases they were very clear that the Canadian government would be paying the bill for this bridge, including the needed improvements on the Michigan side to provide access for this bridge.

One important reason why Canada is will to pay the bill for the new bridge crossing was communicated at this forum that I had not heard before.  Approximately 50 years ago, Michigan paid for the bridge crossing at Sault Ste. Marie.  This project was completed entirely with Michigan tax dollars. At that time a deal was made that the next crossing would be at the cost of Canada.  This new bridge proposal is seen as a payback or trade for that project completed more than 50 years ago.  That was the basis by which discussions started and continued.

The bridge project is important to some of our largest employers in West Michigan.  Canada is a significant trading partner; therefore, improved and more efficient access is warranted and needed.

The top five priorities from the forum included:

  • Build the new International Trade Crossing and a new freight tunnel connecting Michigan to Canada.
  • Improve transportation infrastructure by creating policies that maximize federal matching funds
  • Develop common K-12 and higher education metrics that better prepare students for Michigan’s future workforce needs
  • Dedicate funds for early childhood development in the state budget
  • Support policies that enable local government consolidation

Here are the Lt. Governors thoughts on the international bridge crossing.

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