Under Construction: Building a brighter future for front line workers and how a Michigan industry is opening back up


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced an executive order today that would allow some employees to get back to work.

The governor also introduced ‘Futures for Frontliners’ that would allow front line workers to get a technical certificate, associate degree from a community college or even a bachelor degree, for free. She added that the program would be funded with federal dollars.

“Imagine being a grocery clerk who couldn’t ever afford to go get a certificate or degree and now that will change in an instance,” said Executive director for Michigan College Access Network, Ryan Fewins-Bliss.

Governor Whitmer said the proposal was inspired by the G.I. bill that gave benefits to veterans returning from World War II.

“Historically, when Americans put their lives on the line to defend the rest of us from a foreign enemy, we have shown our gratitude by giving them educational opportunities to improve their lives, our enemy in this instance is a virus, but our frontline workers are just as heroic,” said Governor Whitmer.

Fewins-Bliss agrees with the governor.

“What better reward than a bright future, a way to increase their pay or find a new career or reach dreams that they didn’t even know they were able to reach by getting post secondary education,” he said.

The governor also announced that residential and commercial construction workers can head back to their job sites May 7th.

Governor Whitmer will be signing an executive order this Friday to allow construction to reopen next week. The governor says this will give businesses enough time to gear up to restart their projects.

“We are comfortable taking this step, because it is a lower risk enterprise as we’ve scored risk and developed and worked with industry to make sure we’ve got appropriate protocols,” said Whitmer.

Jennifer Boezwinkle, the executive vice president of Rockford Construction, says they’re ready to restart their projects they had to put on hold, but there will be some new tools in workers tool belts.

“Obviously on job sites were used to hard hats and steel toed shoes, and googles, now we’re learning to embrace masks, gloves, those kinds of things,” said Boezwinkle.

She added that there will be health screenings of all trade contractors and personnel on site.

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