Governor Whitmer Announces $5 Billion Commitment to Boost Michigan Economy
LANSING, MI - Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a virtual press conference on Wednesday, September 2nd at 2:30 pm.
She was joined by Lieutenant Garlin Gilchrist, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Sandy Pierce, the Senior Executive Vice President and Chair of Huntington Michigan, and Hector Hernandez, the Executive Director of Southwest Economic Solutions for a special announcement and to answer questions from the press in attendance.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Huntington Banks announced a $5 billion plan to boost the state’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to remove as many barriers as possible to make COVID-19 testing accessible for everyone in the state. This 5 year commitment is part of the Huntington’s 2020 community plan to focus on small businesses that focus on social equity, economic conclusion, and affordable housing. The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services has also partnered with trusted community organizations, including community colleges, churches, and non-profit organizations to launch 12 neighborhood testing facilities by the end of the week, and more 20 across the the entire state in the coming weeks, free of charge.
“This is a crucial part of our work that is being done by the Michigan COVID-19 task force on racial disparities and will make it easier to access testing. Expanding testing saves lives and protects the brave men and women who have stayed on the front lines throughout this crisis and help our economy in the long run,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer added, “This is great news for Michigan’s small-business owners who have faced unprecedented challenges as we have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic over the past six months. These are Michiganders who have spent their lives building their businesses and who need our help now more than ever. I am proud to work with Huntington Bank as they continue to provide support to our small-business owners and build strong communities in our state, and I’m committed to continue working on behalf of small-business owners as we fight back against COVID-19.”
Gilchrist thanked everyone who was in attendance and said, “This is an opportunity to take a more deliberate approach toward investing in the people and businesses that will have the greatest impact in our communities. I’m excited to see how we can build upon this partnership with Huntington Bank to advance equity in economic growth to ensure that new doors are open to a more diverse group of entrepreneurs at every stage of their business."
Daily cases in Michigan have plateaued and death and hospitalization rates remain low. Dr. Khaldun spoke on how Michigan’s overall case rate is at 59% cases per million per day and have declined in the last week. While Detroit region still has the highest case rate at 66%, the number of cases are declining, while the Traverse City and Upper Peninsula region both have over 40%, and are continuing to monitor those areas. “The number of cases have increased and are higher than they were a few months ago,” Khaldun said.
“Michigan’s rural small businesses and urban micro businesses have been especially hard hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on Michigan’s economy, and minority- and women-owned businesses throughout the state are seeking opportunities to stabilize and thrive,” Pierce said. “Our commitment to Michigan’s small businesses reflects the role they play in driving the state’s economy and the foundation they provide for our economic health. We're honored to work with many outstanding partners who share our commitment to building stronger communities throughout Michigan. Together, we can inspire higher levels of community engagement and deliver new opportunities for all the people we serve."
Hector Hernandez, Executive Director of Southwest Economic Solutions, and a founding member of the Huntington National Community Council, said, “Huntington’s extraordinary and timely commitment is welcome news to struggling families and small businesses. The health and economic crises are disproportionately harming minority communities because of structural inequities in opportunity. Huntington’s community plan takes aim at these inequities by strategically investing in entrepreneurship, homeownership, job training and financial education so that families can build wealth and brighter economic futures.”