Top officials in the Snyder administration are hoping to create 1,000 new jobs in Flint by the end of 2016 to help struggling residents and the local economy recover from the ongoing water contamination crisis.
Transformation Manager Rich Baird, who is heading the “Mission Flint” team along with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and various state department heads, shared that jobs goal Friday during a meeting of the governor’s Flint Water Interagency Task Force.
The state is currently in negotiations with two “major auto suppliers” about bringing jobs to Flint, according to Baird, who told committee members he could not name the companies now because of a non-disclosure agreement.
Additionally, Baird said his team and Michigan Works! are in the process of “identifying 500 workforce development jobs that are designed to not only provide good paying jobs for people but also remove the impediments associated with employment,” such as lack of access to childcare or transportation.
“Mission Flint is really all about the longer-term, prosperous, sustained recovery,” said Baird, a Flint native who is now working in the city.
The interagency coordinating committee, created by Snyder through executive order, includes experts from the state, city, Genesee County, water experts and health officials.
The governor attended the Friday meeting and also was expected to meet individually with Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards and Hurley Children’s Hospital Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.
Snyder noted that state-funded work to identify and begin replacing lead service lines has begun. Rowe Engineering of Flint is being paid $2 million for the initial assessment and pilot program to remove lead pipes at 30 homes.
“That’s happening, and that’s excellent progress,” the governor said.
Harvey Hollins, a top Snyder aide who heads the state Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives, told committee members the state is struggling to share water and public health information with some Flint residents.
“There’s a problem with us actually getting the information really down to the granular, to the community,” he said. “We’re doing a lot. This is not a slam on anyone.”
Hollins said the state is considering new outreach efforts, such as billboards promoting the 211 United Way hotline. One effective strategy, he said, appears to be using small teams to reach out directly to Flint residents.
“The small groups, intimate groups really has a way of giving information that people can really believe,” Hollins said. “It’s no longer the big state and the bad guy. You’re really talking, and they get to know you a little more personal, and I think that’s something we’ll continue to do.”