Thursday, January 21, 2021

Soo Locks, First District Priorities Added to Army Corps FY21 Work Plan

The Great Lakes are unique waterway system in the world and have been part of the economic resilience of the area since the founding of the country. It is also likely to be part of recovery in the future as the U.S. develops its infrastructure to again compete on the international stage. Shipping is a major supply chain cost factor and with a little analysis I think it would be possible to find a great place to coordinate shipping to reduce the cost of both procuring materials and shipping finished products. 

Enhancing the Soo Locks and keeping evasive species out (environmental enhancement) while at the same time increasing trade volume is the line of thinking we should explore more. As we increase the use of shipping (and revenue) we will also want to ensure a certain percentage of that money goes back into improving the shipping and improving the health of the system.  

Sustainability means that a system is created whereby increased revenue means increase investments that improve the health of the Great Lakes. If one can find the "sweet spot" they can improve revenue and improve the environment at the same time whereby increased economic activity could be beneficial for other concerned parties that include business and environmental stakeholders. Business and reducing global warming don't have to be on opposite ends of the spectrum but perhaps we could find some way of enhancing each other.

The following was taken from a press release......

Soo Locks, First District Priorities Added to Army Corps FY21 Work Plan
Washington - Earlier this week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its FY21 work plan to reflect the appropriations provided in H.R. 133The work plan includes an additional $46.543 million for continuing construction of a new lock at the Soo, bringing the total FY21 funding up to $169.763 million. This is in addition to the $63.815 million available for operations and maintenance on the St. Mary's River - including Soo Lock Asset Renewal. 

Rep. Bergman stated, "The FY21 Army Corps work plan is a great next step in our effort to build a new Soo Lock, rebuild critical waterway infrastructure, and protect our Great Lakes from invasive species. Just a few short years ago, many of these projects were considered pipe dreams - but through our collaborative effort, a new Soo Lock is being built, and early stages of the planning for the Brandon Road project are beginning."

On January 8th, Rep. Bergman signed a bipartisan letter urging the Army Corps to prioritize Great Lakes projects. 

With the enactment of key authorizations and funding provided by Congress at the end of 2020, the bipartisan group identified continued Soo Locks improvements, Asian Carp prevention, and implementation of both the Great Lakes Resiliency Study and the Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration program as top priorities. Read the full letter here.

You can find the entire FY21 Army Corps Work Plan, which includes many First District priorities here.

Army Civil Works Program, FY 2021 work plan by Dr. Murad Abel on Scribd

Portland Protests-What does it mean?

Last week I'm watching with horror our capitol get sacked and now the Portland protests and I'm wondering what it means for us in the long run. 👀 We know that our nation is going through hard times and a lot of people have lost their jobs and are suffering. We also know that we are transitioning as a society and there will likely be some upheaval. What concerns me is the agendas (doesn't matter left or right) that seem to be moving toward extremism and destruction. When I look over the years at how politics has changed and why people are no longer buying into the system I'm confused. I suspect there is more going on here then just local people upset over issues that impact them. Could there be a pot stirrer somewhere? I guess time will tell :(

I think that we may want to start encouraging our leadership (official and societal influencers) to start talking about solutions to our problems and instead of highlighting our differences. The more we encourage unbridled anger the more we will need to deal with the consequences down the road.

Michigan COVID Recovery Plan-Business, Tech, and Cost Lens

I'm looking through Governor Whitmer's press release on the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan. There are a lot of things to consider and discuss. What I'm primarily concerned about is how it impacts business in Michigan and how it might influence the formation of digital and high-tech advancement within the state. That also includes rural development which offer new value in the Post COVID economy (i.e. Delta County MI.) We know we need jobs and growth! There will also be some concerns on how such a plan is financed and its overall impact (which would be that way no matter what plan) to ensure we are spending money where it makes the biggest impact for our future growth.

The actual release is HERE. 

A pretty good explanation by the Detroit Free Press is HERE. 


January 19, 2021

Media Contact:

 Governor Whitmer Announces the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan to Jumpstart the State’s Economy and End the COVID-19 Pandemic

Plan includes a direct focus on vaccine distribution, small businesses, and schools

LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan to grow Michigan’s economy and help end the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s plan includes a strong focus on vaccine distribution, economic recovery, schools, and more.

“To help grow and strengthen our economy, we must provide crucial support for our families, small businesses, and frontline workers,” said Governor Whitmer. “The MI COVID Recovery Plan will help small businesses get through the winter, help us put more shots in arms and ramp up vaccine distribution, and get our kids back on track in school. It’s the right thing to do to protect public health and jumpstart our economy, and I’m ready to work with the legislature to get it done.”

“The governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan includes crucial support for our small businesses, our educators, students, and support staff, and our overall public health,” said State Budget Director Dave Massaron. “This is a plan to help our economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and help Michigan compete. To make these investments even more valuable, the immediate action by the legislature to renew Good Jobs for Michigan is vitally important to drive more opportunity for our residents.”

“While still down more than $1 billion compared to projections before the pandemic, the state’s fiscal year 2021 revenues were raised upwards primarily due to impacts from the federal stimulus along with Governor Whitmer’s strong leadership,” said State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks. “Our economic recovery is highly dependent on getting the public health situation under control, and her actions to address the COVID-19 pandemic have improved our fiscal outlook. The MI COVID Recovery Plan will help us jumpstart our economy. Our economic recovery this year will continue to depend on the course of the pandemic and additional economic relief coming from Washington D.C. This plan will direct dollars where they are needed most and will help us achieve the economic recovery we are all eagerly waiting for.”

See below for more details on the governor’s plan:


VACCINE DISTRIBUTION: Michigan is ready to ramp up vaccination distribution, which will help us get back to normal as quickly as possible. Last month, Congress appropriated $90 million in additional resources for vaccine distribution in Michigan through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The governor’s plan will use this federal funding to ramp up vaccine distribution in Michigan and bring us closer to our goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day. This funding will help provide financial support to local health departments for vaccine administration costs, including staff augmentation, as well as provide equipment and supplies. Michigan will also receive $575 million to expand COVID testing, tracing, and lab capacity in Michigan.


SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESS: As part of the governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan, the governor’s plan provides $225 million for three new programs from the MEDC:

  • The Michigan Mainstreet Initiative will help stabilize our small business community by securing grants for restaurants and other place-based businesses to keep our Main Streets vibrant and our communities resilient.
  • The Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative will help us put small businesses with less than nine employees on the path to recovery by creating greater access to much needed support.
  • And the Business Accelerator and Resiliency Initiative will provide grants to high-tech startups that can help our communities thrive.

“Small businesses are critical to the recovery of our communities,” said Small Business Association of Michigan President Brian Calley. “As we approach upcoming reopenings, the Main Street Initiative will target much needed support for some of the hardest hit local businesses.”

“This plan addresses some of the major issues that must be overcome to win Michigan’s COVID-19 recovery: mitigating learning loss, rebuilding small businesses, attracting new jobs and upskilling our workforce. We’re encouraged by the proposed one-time investments for each of these priorities, and look forward to working with the Governor and our state’s leaders to recover and get back on the path to becoming a Top Ten state,” said Jeff Donofrio, President & CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.

GOOD JOBS FOR MICHIGAN: Governor Whitmer called on the Michigan Legislature to pass Good Jobs for Michigan to help Michigan retain and grow our businesses and create jobs. The Good Jobs for Michigan Program provides Michigan businesses with a crucial tool to create jobs and thrive in our state. Pfizer was the first business to utilize Good Jobs for Michigan, and did so to build their sterile drug manufacturing plant and create 450 good-paying jobs in Portage -  the same Portage plant that the first doses of the safe and effective COVID vaccine shipped from at the end of last year. It’s time for the legislature to pass this bill and send it to the governor’s desk.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: The governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan includes a call on the Michigan Legislature to permanently extend unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks. This would bring Michigan in line with 40 other states and provide hard-hit Michigan workers with the financial security and peace of mind they need and deserve.

FOOD ASSISTANCE: As of fiscal year 2019, one in eight Michigan residents received food assistance. Governor Whitmer’s Michigan COVID Recovery Plan will provide more support for families through food assistance so more Michiganders can afford to put food on the table for themselves and their families.

“On behalf of Michigan families, seniors and children faced with the toxic stress of food insecurity, the Food Bank Council of Michigan welcomes the relief in the current federal legislation,” said Food Bank Council of Michigan Executive Director Dr. Phillip Knight. “It is right, moral and beyond necessary. The pandemic has skyrocketed demand for food by 50%, a staggering statistic the places a huge demand on our regional food banks.”

RENTAL ASSISTANCE: The federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2201, will provide the State of Michigan with funding to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s plan will allocate this federal funding to help more Michiganders stay in their homes.

"Keeping people safe and healthy in their homes is one of the most important things we can do right now to slow the spread of the coronavirus while we vaccinate. This rental assistance funding will help Michiganders who are struggling to stay timely with payments to their landlords – the very same business owners who also often depend on this source of income to pay their own bills,” said Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness Executive Director Eric Hufnagel. “We applaud Governor Whitmer and our Michigan leaders for moving quickly to prevent homelessness during these cold winter months."

OFFICE OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT: The governor will create an Office of Rural Development tasked with coordinating work across state government to address issues facing rural communities—including broadband, talent, infrastructure, and more. The MI COVID Relief Plan will also include grants to provide infrastructure and capacity support in rural communities and support for land-based industries.

PROPERTY TAX ASSISTANCE: The governor’s plan includes funding to waive penalties and interest for certain property owners who did not pay their summer 2020 property taxes on time as a result of economic hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic  .

TALENT: The governor’s plan will provide targeted employment and training services through the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to connect unemployed and underemployed Michigan residents with training and resources necessary for gainful employment. The program will prioritize residents from underserved or economically distressed communities to provide them with the skills needed for entry into registered apprenticeships in the energy sector to help drive Michigan’s energy transition.

RECONNECT/FUTURES FOR FRONTLINERS WRAPAROUD SUPPORTS: The governor’s plan includes a pilot providing wrap-around supports for up to 400 single parents who participate in the Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners programs. Participants will receive on-campus childcare, intensive personalized advisement, educational supports including tutoring, career counseling and assistance in transitioning to a 4-year school.


SCHOOLS: As part of the recent actions from the federal government, Michigan was allocated nearly $1.7 billion through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund). The governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan will allocate this federal funding, along with an additional $300M in state dollars, to help schools meet the Governor’s goal of providing every student with an in-person learning opportunity by March 1, and to help address the learning loss that has occurred due to the pandemic. These one-time, flexible dollars will be distributed through a formula that recognizes the additional costs associated with supporting students in poverty and students with special education needs.   

“In order to safely educate Michigan students, schools and educators must have the funding necessary to put virus mitigation measures in place and adhere to them. COVID-19 has impacted every district in the state and every district needs resources to continue educating Michigan students. That’s why the additional per-pupil funding proposed by the governor is so critical, in addition to providing extra support for the individual needs of Michigan at-risk and special education students,” said Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart.

“We have to embrace that some students need more funding in order to equitably meet their education needs, and this plan is an important step in doing so,” said AFT Michigan President David Hecker. “This includes, but is not limited to, the federal government’s investment in Title 1 funding that is putting significant resources into helping at-risk students whose learning is being disproportionately harmed amidst this pandemic."


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Biden's New Cabinet Picks

 As with all new administration's there is going to be new cabinet picks to lead each of the departments the government manages. There is a list in this PBS article HERE

Professor Anita McBride from American University offers her insights in this video. 

Practicing Using Jaws of Life

Its important for people to be engaged in their communities and help in the best ways they can and where their skills lay. In this case, we are practicing the use of the Jaws of Life when it is needed to help travelers that been in a terrible accident. You may find places you can volunteer in your community and these are the small things we can do to make our country great. 

The Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

China to Surpass US. 2026-2030 as World's Largest Economy

China started with the low cost manufacturing option and over the decades have crept up the scale to compete with the U.S. Our nation has been struggling with some issues as of recent but many of these problems started when our companies began to move operations overseas and leak innovative capital. Accordingly an article China’s 2020 GDP means it will overtake U.S. as world’s No. 1 economy sooner than initially expected......

"On Monday, China reported a year-on-year increase of 6.5% for the fourth quarter of 2020 and a 2.3% increase for all of 2020, surpassing analysts' forecasts and making China the the only major economy to log positive growth in 2020."

We are expecting them to meet us from 2026 to 2030 and begin to take the lead. Even though we know there are problems for some reason we have not been able to adapt to compete effectively. Transitioning to a digital platform to help us place ourselves as the center of innovation and the supply chain where values is the highest.

One way to know that we are moving into a new economic platform is when old system, theories, and tools become increasingly difficult to use. That means something is changing and the more ineffective these tools the more we have to consider moving forward in our national development. The Information Age is going to change a lot of things. Can the U.S. take advantage of chaos to master the market?

President Trump Releases Farewell Address

President Trump releases farewell address. The speech provides context of the President's goals and his hope for the nation's future. The speech discusses our shared sense of purpose. 

Pictures of Miner's Falls Michigan-Places to Adventure and Work

Miners Falls in Munising Michigan is located just north of Escanaba/Gladstone. Within an hour of Delta County you have multiple activities in any direction you head.  Housing is affordable and local amenities are available for those who desire to live in a place where they can 1.) enjoy the outdoors and 2.) work online. As our working arrangements change it will be places like these that offer the most value for those who want to balance multiple aspects of their lives. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

New Video of Whitehouse Riot Shows Uploading of Capitol Documents

This is some new footage of the capitol riots and we need to grasp its full scope as we watch documents uploaded onto portable media and the Internet for anyone to see. That information would be in virtual form and available for any intelligence agency on the planet to collect and review. These protestors probably have no idea of what the intelligence ramifications are for this type of action but I would suspect it wasn't a spontaneous random event. 

May God help our leaders focus on something greater than themselves in an effort to get through the tempest of the times. Republican and Democrat rowing together to navigate the winds and the white squall. Its the exertion of rowing together that manifests a high performing crew into a single sense of self.  We must first call our awareness to our conscious and the cadence of the coxswainIt is time for both parties to put down their tough rhetoric and pull everyone to a more rational center.