Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II Fuels Michigan’s Economic Jumpstart by Helping Small Businesses Prepare for the Future of Manufacturing

Monday, July 26, 2021

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Today, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II spoke with a series of small business owners, small manufacturers and advocacy organizations in Battle Creek as part of the ongoing MI Small Business Summer tour. These events are bringing together small business owners, advocates, support organizations and lenders as part of a statewide effort to inform a comprehensive strategy for small business investment in Michigan with today’s summit focused on future-proofing the manufacturing sector.

“Ensuring our manufacturers are positioned to grow and create good jobs across Michigan is critical as we move into a state of recovery and growth following the pandemic,” said Lt. Governor Gilchrist. “Through important conversations like those happening today with manufacturers, we can determine how to invest billions of critical federal dollars in support of all small businesses and manufacturers throughout Michigan.”

With additional state revenues expected following May’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference and incoming federal funding that includes $2 billion in remaining CARES Act funding, nearly $6.5 billion in flexible funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and $176 million in federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funds, Michigan is in a strong position to make investments that can transform the landscape for small businesses and small manufacturers to help both residents and businesses recover from the pandemic as part of the administration’s Economic Jumpstart Plan.

Today’s summit in Battle Creek builds on the efforts of last month’s virtual Small Business Summit hosted by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), to inform a comprehensive strategy for small business investment in Michigan.

“After the challenges and setbacks our workforce faced during the pandemic, these conversations will help guide our efforts as we address the unique needs of businesses like those in the manufacturing industry,” said Susan Corbin, acting director of LEO. “By working together and bringing a diverse set a voices across our state, we can continue to jumpstart the economy and build Michigan back better.”

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Survey, just over 80% of business leaders surveyed plan to accelerate the automation of their work processes, with half of those businesses planning to speed up the automation of jobs within their companies. For both the automotive industry and the manufacturing industry – both of which are the lifeblood of our state economy – the greatest barriers to adopting new technologies is the growing need to attract highly skilled talent. The manufacturing industry, specifically, faces a significant skills gap; between now and 2030, manufacturers will need to fill 4 million jobs – over half of which could go unfilled if the current workforce is not retrained in response to the growth of automation. In Michigan, specifically, nearly 42% of Michigan’s current labor force could be impacted by the advent of new Industry 4.0 technologies.

“We commend Governor Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist for proactively seeking input from manufacturers on the best tools to support them in driving Michigan’s economic recovery,” said John J. Walsh, President & CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “While the needs of each manufacturer is unique, it is clear that the future success of our industry depends on people and technology. Resources to support rapid adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies and skill development for in-demand talent will be critical to keeping Michigan competitive in the global economy.”

The Whitmer Administration remains focused on helping Michigan manufacturers transition seamlessly to Industry 4.0 through education, programming and strategic partnerships. The MEDC is helping lead an Industry 4.0 readiness initiative to support and encourage the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies by Michigan’s small- to medium-sized manufacturers. Partnering with Automation Alley and Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center MEDC has set a goal of having 6,200 businesses – or 50% of the state’s small and mid-sized manufacturers prepared to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies by 2025.

“Manufacturing and technology converge in powerful ways here in Michigan, as evidenced by the bright minds and innovative leaders that are driving our manufacturing industry into the future,” said Quentin Messer, Jr., CEO of the MEDC. “By working with local partners and listening to small manufacturers to inform our unique regional approaches to support these changes, we can make sure that the ideas, people and companies of tomorrow can always find their home here in Michigan.”

The administration is continuing to hold regional and topical small business summits throughout the summer as part of the MI Small Business Summer Tour to explore the findings from the initial virtual summit – and the emerging trends following the pandemic – in greater detail as the state works to effectively leverage the total funding available to support long-term economic prosperity across the state.

For more information on the small business summits and support for small businesses visit

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.