Whitmer: To achieve parity, Northern Michigan needs broadband and population growth

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Gary Peters and other northern Michigan lawmakers traveled to Traverse City on Friday for a policy conference. They joined business leaders to discuss key issues affecting the region, including affordable childcare, widespread high-speed internet and more housing.

Governor Whitmer said that for northern Michigan’s rural communities to thrive, they must be able to attract more talent to the area and support people who want to work here but find it difficult due to the limited housing and high childcare costs. She said the new State Offices for Rural Development and Broadband Internet will help bring more attention to these issues.

“We have [an] incredible quality of life. We have a lower cost of living than you can find in many other places,” Whitmer said. “If you are logged in [to the internet], you can find a great opportunity here in Michigan.

Senator Peters said the region is getting closer to solving the broadband challenge. He said the FCC is developing new broadband maps, which will more accurately show which areas are not connected.

“With new cards coming in, we’ll be able to get that money to the places that need it the most as soon as possible,” he said. “We’re going to find out exactly who has broadband and who doesn’t.”

The event was hosted by the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance, made up of chambers of commerce and economic development groups, which advocates for rural business policy.