Vice President Kamala Harris called the Focus: HOPE job training facility in Detroit a "model of success" on a campaign stop Saturday afternoon with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.
During a tour of the facility Saturday afternoon, Harris said Focus: HOPE helps people engage with jobs of the 21st century and build skills that require an appreciation for math, science and engineering.
"This truly is a model. It's a partnership between union work and apprenticeship training, it is a partnership that is about understanding the extraordinary potential of an investment in technology and innovation," Harris said. "In particular, it is a perfect model of the success we will achieve as an entire nation when we invest in the God-given capacity of the American people to develop their skills to meet the challenges of the moment."
Focus: HOPE offers several workforce development programs that are scholarship-based and free for most students. Courses offered include tree trimming, information technology, construction, logistics and transportation and industrial manufacturing.
The officials met with a program manager, instructor and recent graduate of the industrial manufacturing program at Focus: HOPE and were given demonstrations of some of the facility's training equipment.
Program Manager Kevin Green said their lessons are heavily weighted in mathematics and machine operation and programming.
“I think we do a good job in training the students and finding them jobs. The idea is to give them foundational skills in advanced manufacturing," Green said. “Today’s advanced manufacturing is much different than what we would see previously. … It takes a lot more technical skills.”
Whitmer praised Focus: HOPE for training the next generation of skilled workers and helping Michiganians get good-paying jobs. She emphasized the importance of legislation like the Chips and Science Act and bringing the supply chain and manufacturing back to North America from overseas.
"They (Focus: HOPE) are connecting students with resources and empowering them to achieve their goals and you're even preparing them to manufacture innovative technologies like chips," she said "We're going to continue to build on our leadership when it comes to mobility, electrification, chips and life sciences."
In the last year Michigan has secured manufacturing projects from LG energy solution, General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, Bakker, Pfizer, SK Solterra and many more big projects, Whitmer said. The Michigan Achievement Scholarship
was established last Tuesday and will lower college tuition costs by up to $5,500 for students who attend public, private and community colleges or occupational training programs, she said.
"These are wonderful examples of great momentum that's happening ... just these investments alone have created 4,500 really good paying jobs and they're jobs you can raise a family on," Whitmer said. "The lieutenant governor and I have been working incredibly hard to incentivize students to build their future right here in Michigan."
Harris praised Whitmer for being a valuable partner of the Biden administration. Benefits from legislation like the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Chips and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act can only reach the people of Michigan when they work together, Harris said.
"We really have a champion in Governor Whitmer in terms of making real the promise of all that we have achieved so far," Harris said. "We intend these ... initiatives to help the people of Michigan, but it is because of your leadership that it actually well."
Supply chain issues that were highlighted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic showed that Americans relied on products that are manufactured outside of the United States, Harris said. When the transportation and manufacturing of those products slowed, American consumers and families experience a lot of pain.
"Let's invest in American manufacturing, let's reinvest in what Michigan is a model of: which is home-based, homegrown manufacturing in a way that is not only about the creation of very important jobs that benefit families, but benefit the entire economy," Harris said.
The Michigan Republican Party welcomed Harris to Michigan in a statement but said she and Gilchrist are both part of administrations that have failed to keep key promises and accused them of electioneering in a statement.
"These two radical politicians are part of administrations that have a lot in common — both have made promises they failed to keep, both are clearly anti-parent, with Kamala Harris even going as far as to say children don't belong to parents but to the community, and both have sat idly by as inflation ravages American families," said Gustavo Portela, MIGOP Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director.
The Republican National Committee also blamed rising prices on the Biden administration in a statement in response to Harris' visit to Michigan.
"As prices continue to rise and gas in the state exceeds $4.00 per gallon once again, Michiganders can thank Kamala Harris and the Biden administration for its war on the checkbooks of American families," said Preya Samsundar, an RNC spokesperson.
Harris said legislation like the Chips and Science Act, which invests $53 billion to create new jobs in industries like semiconductor manufacturing, will lower consumer costs.
"Ultimately, the Chips and Science Act is about making manufacturing in the United States more competitive and stronger," she said. "Michigan has always been a model for our country of what we do when we recognize the value and importance of workers. We understand how workers have built our economy, our middle class, and that we must continue to invest in them."
Harris attended a Democratic Party fundraising event with Whitmer and Gilchrist before her tour of the training facility. After the tour, the vice president continued to a MI First Vote rally of parents and students at Southfield High School to encourage newly eligible Michiganians to vote.
"As a result of what young voters demanded, in the last election, we were able to say that we're going to relieve student loan debt of up to $20,000," Harris said, according to a White House pool report. "Young voters have so much at stake and such a powerful voice. And so I encourage that, as you use that voice in so many ways you use it through your vote."