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Whitmer: Balloon downing over Lake Huron helps case for Michigan military bases

Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the Detroit Regional Chamber on her economic plans.
Rick Pluta
Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the Detroit Regional Chamber on her economic plans.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the downing of an unidentified airborne object over Lake Huron should help persuade federal officials that it’s vital to maintain federal military facilities in Michigan.

In an address Monday to the Detroit Regional Chamber, Whitmer said the event shows Michigan and the Great Lakes play a critical national security role.

“When you look at Camp Grayling to Alpena to Battle Creek to Selfridge, we’ve got something to offer that no one else can – four-season training, incredible air space, international air space and water, as well,” she said. “And I think after what happened (Sunday), maybe strengthens our case.”

The airborne object was shot down Sunday east of the Upper Peninsula by an F-16 fighter under an order from President Joe Biden. The object was deemed a navigation threat, but the security implications are still being examined.

Whitmer was in Washington DC last week, in part to argue for stationing next-generation fighters at the Selfridge Air National Guard Basein Macomb County. Whitmer’s new budget proposal includes $10 million to fund improvements at the Selfridge air base in Macomb County.

The governor spoke to the Detroit Regional Chamber on a variety of topics. She said Michigan’s abortion rights amendmentwill also aid economic development by helping keep younger workers in the state. She also defended the use of economic incentives to electric vehicle production. Whitmer said it’s particularly important to win battery factories. She said they will be the hub of electric vehicle production.

“In EVs, the heaviest part of the car is now the battery, and so if we’re not making batteries, all the other components can move to where the battery is made and that’s why we’ve got to compete and we’ve got to win battery plants and opportunities,” she said.

“Despite our rich history in mobility, we don’t have a lock on the future of mobility,” she said. “We have to compete, and we have to win.”

Whitmer wants business leaders to back a proposal to give her administration more control over a taxpayer-funded economic development fund. The governor said that would allow the state to act quickly to close economic development deals.

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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