Pontiac, Michigan -- Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and leaders from Oakland County's business community announced today their support for the New International Trade Crossing (NITC).
"Oakland County has a firm record of embracing tomorrow's solutions for today's economy," said Patterson. "The New International Trade Crossing will pave the way to a better future for international commerce in Michigan and the nation."
NITC will establish Michigan as a logistics hub for North American and world trade and create an immediate demand for 10,000 construction jobs in Michigan.
Additionally, more than 10,000 Michigan businesses - large and small - depend on trade with Canada, according to the State of Michigan. More than 41,000 Oakland County jobs are dependant on trade with Canada. Oakland County-based companies like Chrysler, Lear Corporation and ArvinMeritor, Inc. are major Canadian trading partners. Other Michigan companies impacted by trade with Canada that have locations in Oakland County include General Motors and Gordon Food Service. Plus, there are more than 107 Canadian firms with operations in Oakland County such as Sun Life Financial, Roots and Magna International which employee more than 7,000 people.
Oakland County-based Automation Alley - a consortium of more than 1,000 high-tech companies across eight counties and the City of Detroit that competes directly with Silicon Valley and Boston's Route 128 - helps businesses throughout the region foster international trade, including with Canada.
"Automation Alley supports the New International Trade Crossing," said Ken Rogers, executive director of Automation Alley and deputy county executive. "Canada is our major trading partner. Billions of dollars of trade takes place between our two countries. The new bridge makes sense economically and logistically."
In a move that will leverage $2.2 billion in federal funds for statewide road and bridge projects without raising taxes or requiring additional program cuts elsewhere, Governor Rick Snyder convinced the federal government to allow Michigan to use the $550 million pledged by Canada for NITC for the state's matching funds.
"I am confident that this will create job growth in our region," said Al Kirluk, chairman of the Transportation Committee at the Oakland County Business Roundtable. "In addition to the job growth prospects, it is a tremendous benefit to the State of Michigan taxpayers to know that this bridge will be paid for by user fees but in the long run will be a multi-billion dollar asset owned by the State of Michigan and Ontario, Canada. This project will favorably impact new capital investment decisions made in our region."
The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce estimates that delays and regulations at the Ambassador Bridge cost the auto industry $800 per vehicle. Many auto-related plants depend on just-in-time delivery; when a recent storm closed Highway 402 near the Blue Water Bridge for a day, back-ups at the Ambassador Bridge caused some Michigan plants to shut down production lines.
"There are a combined six lanes of traffic at the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit Windsor Tunnel. Compare that to Buffalo and Niagara Falls where there are four bridges with 14 lanes – and they handle just over 69% of the commercial traffic we do here in Detroit," Patterson said.
Patterson, Rogers and Kirluk join a chorus of voices in favor of NITC which includes the auto industry, agricultural groups, business and university executives, municipal and transportation leaders, and former Governors William Milliken, James Blanchard, John Engler and Jennifer Granholm.
"It's time for those who stand in the way of progress to step aside and allow Michigan to move toward the future," said Patterson.
For media inquiries only, please contact Bill Mullan, Media and Communications Officer, at 248-858-1048.