Will Detroit ever really recover, in your honest opinion?
Jared May, BOSTON
Absolutely! We have great bones as a city and as a state. We have more engineers in this region than in all the other states plus Canada and Mexico combined. We are in a tough period because we have an auto crisis and a financial crisis, so we're hit harder than any other state in the country.
How will re-educating the unemployed help if there are no jobs for them to fill?
Nicholas Knox, DAVISON, MICH.
This is the perfect time to go back and get retrained--but get retrained in an emerging sector. We won't pay for you to get a degree in French or political science--those are my degrees so I can say that safely--but we will pay for you to get a degree in something that is of need, like nursing. We have 80,000 vacancies even though we have high unemployment. There is a skills gap.
Many firms are looking for environmental scientists and engineers, while most Michigan workers have only auto-manufacturing experience. Can we really get people employed?
Freda Zhuo, PHILADELPHIA
The same people who bend steel to make cars can bend steel to make wind turbines. The same people who program machines to build car parts can program machines to build parts for solar panels. Wind turbines have brake systems, drive trains--the same kinds of things you have in a car, only really big. So there's no doubt that we can translate the expertise.
What makes existing businesses in Michigan less worthy of tax relief than the Hollywood film industry?
Jon Boguth, HOWELL, MICH.
You can't give tax credits to everybody, because somebody's gotta pay for them. We have targeted six sectors: homeland security, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, tourism and film. Film is an area associated with keeping young people here, with dynamism.
I was born and raised in Michigan. I'd love to come home, but how can I find the opportunity that I have found elsewhere?
Emilie Sweet, OMAHA, NEB.
Come on home, Emilie. I think the opportunity in this crisis is great.
Michigan has 4,000 fewer police officers since your first day in office. With crime on the rise, how can residents feel safe?
Chad Cupp, MONROE, MICH.
The experts tell us that between 2000 and 2010, Michigan will have lost a million jobs. Revenue to the state has plummeted. It's why we have focused on regional collaborations--for example, our Michigan state police deployed in partnership with the Detroit police. You've got to be able to share resources like that. It is clear that while you go through this tough time, you have to have police officers on the street.
I've heard it said that Detroit cannot continue to pay for services because the residents are so spread out now. Wouldn't it be possible to take vacant properties and sell them to people who want to rebuild the city?
Susan Pillsbury GAYLORD, MICH.
We've created a Michigan Land Bank to assemble properties so that we can not just auction them but make them available for job providers. The bottom line is, Detroit was built as a city for 2 million, and it's got less than a million people now, so we've got a lot of vacant space.
What is currently on your iPod?
Miguel Chavez, ODESSA, TEXAS
Everything from Andrea Bocelli to Aretha Franklin to Bruce Springsteen to the Black Eyed Peas.