Gov. Whitmer outlines plan to increase Michigan’s population

Whitmer is taking steps to address Michigan’s stagnant population growth.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:16 PM EDT
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MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (WLUC) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is taking steps to address Michigan’s stagnant population growth.

During her keynote address at the Mackinac Policy Conference Thursday, Whitmer announced her plan to increase Michigan’s population. Whitmer signed an executive order to establish the Growing Michigan Together Council.

The bipartisan council will be made up of 28 members - 21 voting and seven non-voting.

“Our goal is to grow Michigan and to succeed we’ve got to do it together,” Whitmer said. “We’re making progress, but we’ve got to do more. It is time for a growth strategy led by leaders and experts focused on our Collective goals rather than personal political or partisan agendas.

Whitmer says the commission will complete a study looking at increasing Michigan’s talent pool, manufacturing base and leveraging the state’s natural resources.

“The council will identify a specific population goal for 2050,” Whitmer said. “They will map out how to use all the different levers that we have retention recruitment domestic migration immigration so that we can continue growing our economy and create upward mobility for everyone.”

Republican leaders are critical of the governor’s plan.

Republican State Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt said in a statement: “Anyone can see her self-spun “bipartisan” council — appointed solely by her — is actually a far cry from bipartisan. It is simply more smoke and mirrors to distract from the Democrats pushing to raise taxes, cater to corrupt union bosses, remove education accountability, and empower Lansing bureaucracy instead of the people of Michigan.”

InvestUP CEO Marty Fittante says his organization is happy to see the issue of population addressed.

“Population has really been our focus since 2000 and we are really excited that the governor and policymakers are now making this their priority as well,” Fittante said.

Fittante says he hopes a voice from the U.P. is represented on the council.

“I hope what is next is that the Governor makes an individual from the Upper Peninsula one of the 21 voting members,” Fittante said. “It is imperative from our perspective that the Upper Peninsula has a voice at that table.”

Whitmer also announced the creation of a Chief Growth Officer and assigned Hilary Doe to the role. Whitmer says Doe will work to implement the findings from the commission.

“As Chief Growth Officer Hillary will be housed within the MEDC,” Whitmer said. “She will closely with the council to implement recommendations, chase funding and bring stakeholders together. She’ll lead a first-in-the-nation effort to tell Michigan’s story of natural beauty diversity and economic leadership.”

The commission will release the report on Dec. 1, and it will contain a detailed plan to increase Michigan’s population in the long run.