Governor Jennifer Granholm has less than 10 days left in office. The term-limited Democrat spoke with Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley this morning about her 8 years in office and what she hopes for the future of the state.
While Granholm says she governed during some of the most difficult economic times in Michigan’s history, she leaves office hopeful about the state’s future.
“Just in the past year and a half, we’ve attracted eighteen companies that are doing advanced batteries for the electric automobile,” says Granholm, “Those eighteen companies are projected to create 63,000 jobs in Michigan over this next decade. We are going to be the center for the electrification of the vehicle.”
Central to Granholm’s optimism are her efforts as governor to diversify the state’s economy by adding new job sectors. She says, “The battery technology is going to allow us to also provide energy storage outside of the vehicle. So, utility scale, energy storage from renewable sources, Michigan is going to be the center of all of that.” In addition to battery technology and energy storage, Granholm says she has focused on other sectors as well, including advanced manufacturing, homeland security and defense, life sciences, tourism, and film.
Along with her efforts to diversify Michigan’s economy, Granhom thinks her greatest accomplishment is her work to reform the state’s education system. She says both the economic diversification and her educational reforms are long-term investments that will take time to mature.
“We’ve revamped all of our standards in Michigan,” says Granholm, “As a result, we’ve seen math scores rise every single year since 2005, reading scores rise every single year since 2005... Record enrollment now in universities and community colleges. In fact, the community college enrollment has increased by thirty-five percent. So you’re going to start to see the fruits of this strategy, but it’s clear that the next governor, Governor-elect Snyder, has really got to continue these efforts to diversify and educate.”
Looking back on her time in office, Governor Granholm wants Michigan residents to know that she played both offense and defense when the state was in serious economic trouble. “Because of these challenges it was critical for us to diversify the economy,” she says, “So we’ve laid a foundation for a new Michigan economy.”
With the state’s economy in transition, Granholm says her policies were aimed at remaking Michigan’s future. “I quote a Chinese proverb all the time, saying that, ‘Sometimes leadership is planting trees under whose shade you will never sit.’ And this is a long-term strategy to diversify an economy and to educate our citizens, but I know Michigan is going to be in a stronger position. We are a state with fantastic bones and we’re going to be alright.”
Regarding what she plans to do after leaving office in January, Governor Granholm says she’ll make an announcement sometime next month.
- By Eliot Johnson
You can hear the interview here.