GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The two major party candidates for governor were focused on West Michigan Wednesday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, was in the area to talk about money for economic development and talk about three new projects, including one near Big Rapids, that promise to create more than 4,000 jobs. The visit was in her official capacity, but at this point in the election cycle, every stop as campaign overtones.

Last week, the state Legislature passed nearly a billion dollars in economic development funds. The governor said she wants a longer term strategy for attracting business to Michigan.

“Today’s announcement is a massive investment that impacts Wayne County, that impacts Mecosta County, that impacts Ottawa County. As you can see, we are competing in all parts of the state. We’re ensuring that every community has an opportunity and I think we’re going to have to continue this conversation. But I can tell you right now, there’s an election coming up, you might have heard, and I don’t know that the Legislature is going to be in town much between now and the election. But I assume afterward there will be a lame-duck session and perhaps there’ll be conversation then.”

Republican candidate Tudor Dixon was in Holland, holding what was billed as a “freedom rally.” The overflow event was held at Marlena’s Bistro. The bistro’s namesake and owner became the center of the controversy over restaurant shutdowns ordered by the Whitmer administration. Her repeated violation of those orders landed her in jail for a short time. Her bistro remains a rallying cry for those opposed to Whitmer’s actions during the pandemic.

“Our message is that we are open for business, the state of Michigan is open for business,” Dixon said. “People have said, ‘Well, it’s already open for business.’ But we go beyond just COVID and we talk about what the governor is doing with her agencies to continue to go after small business instead of helping them expand, helping them grow. But also we want to bring back our schools. We want to make sure our students have the best opportunity in life and get our test scores up. And then we also want to make sure that our cities are safe, so that’s why we introduced our safe state plan to invest in our law enforcement so we’ve actually got law enforcement and support our law enforcement.”

With 33 days before Election Day and absentee ballots already being sent out and returned, you can expect this race to intensify and see more of both candidates and candidates for many offices more frequently.

The general election is Nov. 8.