The Right Place Inc. President and CEO Birgit Klohs last week was one of three individuals from Michigan appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the six-member international authority that is overseeing construction of Michigan’s first bridge and international crossing into Canada in 85 years.
Such an unprecedented distinction offers business owners and leaders in the West Michigan region a rare representation and opportunity.
There is perhaps no greater epitome of Gov. Snyder than his actions on the eve of his 2011 inauguration as governor of this Great Lakes State: He had spent the weekend in Washington, D.C., gaining an ear — and earmarked federal tax transportation dollars returned to Michigan for construction of a second, international crossing worth billions of dollars in trade between the two countries. As the proposal survived battles with the Ambassador Bridge owner in Detroit, Matty Moroun, and the state legislators, Snyder continued an action plan to get the bridge constructed.
A Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce study of regional exports showed that one in seven Grand Rapids-area jobs is tied to trade with Canada, a significant part of the $44 billion per year in trade between Canada and Michigan. Last week Canada’s transport minister, Lisa Raitt, outlined Canada’s economic statistics noting continued and sustained growth for “Canada’s busiest U.S. commercial border crossing.” She told reporters in Windsor that no conflict will delay construction and reiterated Canada’s resolve to finish the project with Michigan.
The Business Journal has reported West Michigan business owners’ frequent comments that long delays have held up business on one side of the border or the other — sometimes resulting in complete re-routing to save time and money, sending trucks south across state lines rather than burning fuel waiting to cross and enduring anything but “just-in-time” deliveries.
Snyder last week outlined the progress to date, noting receipt of the presidential permit, environmental permits from Michigan and U.S. Coast Guard approval. The next steps, Snyder said, are land acquisition and engineering work.
Joining Klohs on this all-important economic multiplier is Matt Rizik, developer Dan Gilbert’s chief tax officer at Rock Ventures, and Michael Hayes, Midland Center for the Arts president and CEO.
The Business Journal anxiously anticipates the group’s continued success on both sides of the international border and opening of the new crossing in 2020.