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At northern Michigan conference, Whitmer touches on childcare, housing

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the Northern Michigan Policy Conference on Jan. 19, 2024.
Izzy Ross
IPR News
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the Northern Michigan Policy Conference on Jan. 19, 2024.

Michigan's governor addressed a regional economic development conference in northern Michigan on Friday, focusing on childcare and housing — two issues that are acutely felt in the region.

“People want to live in a neighborhood where they feel safe and welcomed,” Whitmer said. “Last year, we made record bipartisan investments to build thousands of affordable housing units across this region.”

Whitmer said she’s seen some of the issues in northern Michigan first hand. In August, she toured an affordable housing community in Emmet County, and met the first family to live there.

“They told me how they and their two kids had been living in a small apartment that didn't have even enough room for the kids to play outside. It was cramped," she said. "And now they have an affordable three bedroom house.”

State representatives from around the region also met for a panel to talk about issues and priorities around housing in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance put on the Northern Michigan Policy Conference at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme. The group represents thousands of businesses in the region.

The state’s childcare crisis was another focal point at the conference.

“We know we have a shortage now, and that's why I proposed the Caring for MI Future plan with a goal of opening or expanding 1,000 new childcare programs by 2024,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said that while the state met that goal back in November, there’s a long way to go.

“Just down the road, Traverse City’s Networks Northwest received a $150,000 grant last year, opening more slots for local families,” she said.

Copyright 2024 Interlochen Public Radio. To see more, visit Interlochen Public Radio.

Izzy covers climate change for communities in northern Michigan and around the Great Lakes for IPR through a partnership with