Governor Rick Snyder discusses jobs at Oakland County Community College in Farmington Hills on Thurday night. (Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News)
Farmington Hills— Gov. Rick Snyder touted the “cool things we have going on in our state,” including job creation and programs connecting students to jobs, before a crowd of students and job creators Thursday.
Snyder,who in a news release before the event said his administration has created 223,000 jobs in the state in his first term, advertised his new Michigan Advanced Technician Training initiative, a three-year training program in which students can attain an advanced associate’s degree with tuition costs paid for by an employer, as well as a salary and a guaranteed job upon completion.
“Michiganders are wonderful at making things, but we’re actually not so good with the marketing,” Snyder told nearly 200 students, faculty, legislators and others at Oakland Community College’s Orchard Ridge campus. “We need to get louder and prouder about who we are and the cool things we have going on in our state, let alone wonderful programs like that.”
Eric Kasch, an OCC student, said he can see the benefits of the program as he and his peers study “mechtronics,” a combination of mechanical and electrical engineering.
“I think we need to spread awareness of the program,” said Kasch.
No student is too young to try and reach out to, Snyder said. With his administration pushing the need to attract students to in-demand skilled trades, including welding, Snyder said a small class of sixth-graders in Cadillac invited the governor to see what they had been learning.
Although they’re too young to worry about job hunting, “all of them wanted to be welders that day,” Snyder told the crowd.
The hour-long town hall meeting was live streamed online and included questions from people via social media.
Snyder’s job creation numbers came on the heels of an audit released in September that found a state jobs trust fund’s numbers were inflated and unverified.
A state jobs fund produced only a small fraction of the employment numbers lawmakers were told had been created, the audit found. The program distributed $64 million to 12 companies through March 31.
A report from Michigan’s auditor general said the 21st Century Job Trust Funds’ Centers of Energy Excellence Program met just 19 percent of its employment projections.
Officials of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which administered the fund, attributed the discrepancy to an oversight and agreed to correct it.
On Wednesday, Michael Finney, head of the MEDC, defended his agency, saying too much attention was paid to an instance where companies that received grants under Centers of Energy Excellence Program met the 19 percent employment projection instead of the 75 percent figure reported by legislators.
“We did not overstate any job numbers,” Finney said Wednesday during a hearing before the state House Commerce Committee. “We provided accurate information at the time the reports were submitted to the Legislature.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.