This article appeared in the May 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Q: Can you share how your background has helped you to represent your constituents, including local manufacturers?/h5>
Senator Schmidt: My background in hospitality and retail has provided me with the tools to successfully communicate with my constituents and get to know them on a personal level.
During my time as County Commissioner I was given a unique opportunity to get to know the many manufacturers in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. I served on the Brownfield Board and Economic Development Corporation helping companies expand their operations. As a result, I came into the Legislature with a good base of understanding of the manufacturing industry. Furthermore, while growing up in northern Michigan I got to know manufacturers on a personal level by visiting operations and learning their needs and challenges.
Q: Talent remains manufacturing’s top challenge; locating, training and retaining. Are there current legislative efforts in place to help employers fund training programs and ease the overall workforce development effort?/h5>
Senator Schmidt: I previously served as Chair of the Commerce Committee in both the House and Senate and have always been supportive of these types of programs. Currently, the Legislature is working on Michigan Reconnect and Going PRO. I will continue working closely with my colleagues, including the Chair of the Labor and Economic Opportunity/MEDC Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Ken Horn, to ensure their success.
Q: Looking at your time in the Legislature, what achievements are you most proud of and what are you still looking to achieve before the end of your term?/h5>
Senator Schmidt: I am most proud of my involvement in our state’s transportation system, including roads, railways and airports — the manufacturers in Michigan need a solid, reliable transportation network. I am also honored to have been named Legislator of the Year and Advocate of the Year by MMA in the past. Moving forward, I plan to continue my work on Michigan’s education system and its funding.
Q: Looking ahead five to 10 years, where do you think Michigan manufacturing can go and what still needs to happen to get the industry there?/h5>
Senator Schmidt: I am excited about the future of Michigan manufacturing! We are living in uncertain and unprecedented times, but each day the manufacturers in this state prove that they can adapt and work together to rise to any challenge. I am confident that those skills will put Michigan back in the driver’s seat as a hub of manufacturing in the US. Our biggest challenges following this crisis, and in the next five to 10 years, will be prepping our workforce on all levels, from the shop floor to top management. I have always enjoyed working with Michigan manufacturers and am grateful to have been recognized by them in previous years. I look forward to continuing working with them as I finish out my term.