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Michigan governor-elect puts Asian carp, state's aging infrastructure on Trump's radar

Michigan Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday she emphasized the importance of upgrading road and water infrastructure and keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes in a meeting with President Donald Trump.

Trump pledged to continue supporting the long-awaited $1-billion Great Lakes navigational lock

Carp have infested much of the Mississippi River basin and are threatening to gain a foothold in the Great Lakes through rivers and canals. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Michigan Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday she emphasized the importance of upgrading road and water infrastructure and keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes in a meeting with President Donald Trump.

Whitmer, who will take office Jan. 1, was among new governors-elect from both parties invited to meetings with Trump and top administration officials. She called it a "really productive" day.

"I told him I got elected on fixing the damn roads. He acknowledged how important infrastructure is and said he's really focused on getting an infrastructure bill passed, and he encouraged all of us to get our congressional delegation to focus on this as well," Whitmer said in a conference call after the meeting.

She said Trump pledged to continue supporting the construction of a long-awaited $1 billion Great Lakes navigational lock needed to ensure flow of raw materials essential for steelmaking and other manufacturing. Whitmer said she and governors-elect from Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin told Trump about the threat of Asian carp and the import of federal-state partnerships.

"That was an interesting conversation because I don't think that President Trump had really had the chance to learn much about Asian carp before, so we had a good conversation about that," said Whitmer, who said the discussion largely centred around infrastructure and workers' skills.

She also met individually with three Cabinet members including Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, expressing concern to him over the effect of the Trump administration's tariffs and trade policies on automakers, farmers and specifically Michigan-based solar company Hemlock Semiconductor near Saginaw.

Whitmer said she and Trump did not discuss General Motors and its recent announcement of plans to cut up to 14,000 jobs in North Carolina and consider closing five plants, including in Michigan, which has prompted Trump to lash out at the Detroit-based automaker.

But she said she and Ross spoke about luring business investment to Michigan, and he gave a couple suggestions of what the state might do about the expected closure of GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant. She did not elaborate.

Whitmer said she briefly spoke with GM CEO Mary Barra on Wednesday, and they plan to sit down together after she takes office so Whitmer can get up to speed on GM's plans for displaced workers.  

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