Granholm Visits Delta Plant, Touts Economic Plan

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Governor Jennifer Granholm is taking her economic plan on the road. She met Friday with workers and GM officials at the company's Delta Township plant.

The auto industry figures prominently in the governor's plan, first announced during her State of the State address Wednesday.

Granholm opened her visit with a specific address to Delta workers:

"You all have the tremendous opportunity here -- your brothers and sisters in other facilities might not be as fortunate," she said.

And then it was on to those "brothers and sisters" -- and the Michigan ecnomy in general. Granholm's remarks reflect a dual message about the economy: First, try to protect the auto industry for the future:

"We're the state that put the world on four wheels. We should be the state that makes those wheels run on pollution-free fuel cells," Granholm said.

And secondly, prepare for a Michigan in which the industry plays a less prominent role.

"We also though, and I know you'll agree, have to diversify our economy as well. It's a different world out there," the governor said.

Granholm says that diversification will come about in part because of a new pledge of $2 billion research dollars to be set aside by the state. She says the money will be start-up cash for companies in fields like alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, defense and life sciences.

The governor toured the plant as part of her visit. In her speech, she said President Bush isn't doing enough to help the auto industry. And as union leaders watched, Granholm said the federal government isn't doing enough to solve the problem of soaring healthcare costs -- a critical issue in negotations and GM's future.

"I hope you will join with me in taking this fight to Washington," Granholm said.

Union leaders and workers at GM's Delta plant invited to the speech by GM say they like what the governor had to say.

"She just assured us that she will do everything she can to help manufacturing in this state," UAW local president Art Luna said.

"I know she's one person. But if she can motivate the legislature and the people around her to help out economy--that'd be great for us," plant worker Leo Cowdry said.

Talking to reporters after the speech, Granholm answered questions about funding for her new plans for the economy. She says her economic plan will fit into the current budget -- with a little help in the form of federal grants.

-- in Delta Township, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.