MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan’s junior senator says he wants to encourage bipartisan cooperation to bring more defense manufacturing to Michigan.
“We’re from Michigan. We know how to make stuff here. We’ve got skilled workers we know how to get things done,” U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said on Mackinac Island last week.
On the island for the annual Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference, he was attending a Thursday panel hosted by 24 Hour News 8 political reporter Rick Albin on bipartisanship in Washington, D.C.
Peters says the state is uniquely positioned to capture a larger share of defense manufacturing spending going forward. Already, the next-generation combat vehicle for the U.S. Army is being developed here.
“As they develop that, it’s only natural that the production facilities will also be located nearby,” Peters said.
That doesn’t happen by chance. Michigan has the historical track record to perform for the military and is well-positioned in terms of technology, Peters added. Technology developed for cars of the future can easily be converted to military applications.
“The fact that we are the center of advanced manufacturing here in Michigan is a big reason why the facility is here,” he said. “What’s happening in the commercial auto sector right now with self-driving cars and machine learning AI, that’s changing warfare in dramatic ways. The Air Force believes that the F-35 fighter, our front-line fighter, will probably be the last fighter jet that will ever have a human pilot in it.”
Michigan has one more potential advantage. The state has four representatives in Congress — Peters; Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet; Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden Township; and Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly — are members of their chambers’ Armed Services committees. That gives Michigan a lot of clout in decisions about what gets built and where.