Snyder attends his last UP State Fair as governor

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, left, helps Sarah “The Cheese Lady” Kaufmann create a cheese sculpture while visiting the U.P. State Fair Thursday. This marked Snyder’s final visit to the fair as the state’s governor. (Jordan Beck/Daily Press photo)

ESCANABA — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder came to Escanaba for Honored Citizens Day at the U.P. State Fair on Thursday, his final visit to the fair as the state’s governor.

In an interview earlier in the day, Snyder addressed several state issues. On the ongoing trade war between China and the United States, he said the effect of this dispute on Michigan has been mixed.

During his two terms as governor, Snyder has taken multiple trade trips to China and has another planned for September. He said the goals of these trip include bringing new jobs to Michigan, giving the state an opportunity to increase exports, and promoting Michigan tourism and agriculture.

“The good part is, the jobs we brought to Michigan — it’s not affecting them, because they’re now doing the work in Michigan,” he said.

However, some of the other goals of these trips have been hindered by this trade dispute.

“What it’s doing is really hurting us on the export side,” Snyder said.

On the water crisis in Flint, Snyder said the state continues to play a role in efforts related to this situation.

“We’re continuing to provide support — we’ve provided resources to help … with the water infrastructure, to help with all the lead service line replacements,” he said.

He noted things have been improving in Flint, as well.

“The water quality in Flint has been equivalent (to) or better than many Michigan communities for the last couple years,” Snyder said.

Snyder also spoke about what he believes will be the most pressing issues facing the Upper Peninsula in the near future, including meeting the peninsula’s energy needs, which should be made easier thanks to two natural gas-fired plants that have been built in Marquette.

“I think that sets a framework for good things,” he said.

According to Snyder, another issue is the lack of broadband internet in some parts of Michigan. The state currently ranks 30th in the nation for broadband availability; over 350,000 Michigan households (mostly in rural areas) do not have access to high-speed internet.

Snyder said a plan to provide universal access to high-speed internet for every resident, business, region, and community in Michigan will serve as a solution to this problem. This plan was unveiled by Snyder Wednesday.

“That’s an opportunity to do work anywhere in the world, if you can be connected,” he said.

Snyder also discussed his proudest accomplishments as Michigan’s governor and what he wished he could have done differently. Snyder said he was glad to be able to help increase collaboration and support economic growth in the state.

“With the economic comeback and the other things, Michigan’s a much better place,” he said.

Snyder went on to say that there were some things he had not been able to focus on during his terms as governor.

“I didn’t get to everything I wanted to,” he said, noting he would have liked to make more progress on the issue of no-fault auto insurance.

However, Snyder was generally pleased with what he has been able to accomplish in his position.

“Largely, we’ve reinvented Michigan in the last eight years,” he said.

Later, at the U.P. State Fairgrounds. Snyder visited the U.P. Steam and Gas Engine Association’s Antique Village to participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building and parking area.

The new building will include the Delta County Commerce Center and U.P. State Fair office, a visitors’ information center, space for a U.P. veterans museum, and the Webster Marble “Creating the Outdoors” Museum. It was made possible by a $1 million donation from the John and Melissa Besse Foundation and $500,000 in state funding.

“The Besse Foundation and the Besse family should be congratulated for (their) outstanding contribution to really make this happen,” Snyder said.

While the phrase “Pure Michigan” is often used to describe naturally beautiful areas, Snyder said the new building will exemplify this phrase by showcasing the U.P.’s history and culture.

“This is also Pure Michigan — it’s about our heritage and who we are,” he said.

After the ceremony, Snyder toured the U.P. State Fairgrounds with other legislators, including U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, state Sen. Tom Casperson, state Rep. Beau LaFave, and state Senate candidate and former state Rep. Ed McBroom. Snyder visited the Michigan Farm Bureau’s FARM Science Lab, the Miracle of Life Pavilion, and the fairgrounds’ swine, beef, and dairy barns.

“We’ve got the best cows in the country,” Snyder said during his tour. When the tour concluded, Snyder went on to speak at the 2018 U.P. Veteran of the Year ceremony and the annual governor’s luncheon.

Snyder said he enjoyed his time at the U.P. State Fair.

“It’s great to be here,” he said.

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