LANSING — State Rep. John Cherry (D-Flint) introduced House Bill 4573 this week to both ensure the funds used to fix our roads and bridges stay local and address the ‘talent gap’ Michigan faces regarding skilled trades jobs. The bill will give preference when awarding contracts for infrastructure construction projects to contractors that employ a minimum of 75 percent of their construction mechanics residing within a 60-mile radius of the worksite, as well as contractors who offer construction mechanic apprenticeship programs certified by the U.S. Department of Labor.

 “Michigan taxpayers deserve quality work for the $2.5 billion needed to repair our roads and bridges, and nobody will exhibit more care and dedication to ensuring roads will last than those who will drive on them every day,” Cherry said. “We can leverage additional investment in our roads to boost our skilled workforce and deliver strong, middle class jobs for Michiganders. When the opportunity arises to support our local economy while fixing our infrastructure, we must seize it.”

Outsourcing of Michigan jobs and a lack of qualified workers to fill available positions have both been frequent points of discussion amongst legislators in recent years. HB 4573 is awaiting a House committee referral.