FLINT, MI – Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican candidate for governor, on Friday toured a packaging and warehousing facility in the Flint area.

NorthGate, which hosted the tour, designs customized cardboard boxes for their clients. Because packaging is inexpensive for clients to purchase, the company’s top officials say they simply don’t have the funds necessary to pay most employees a livable wage – but they have a system in place to get their dedicated workers into higher paying jobs.

If an employee consistently shows up to work and demonstrates that they can handle the skilled labor, then NorthGate will connect them with other companies, including Lear and General Motors, where employees will receive higher wages.

“We want to take people from unemployment to employment, to workforce development, enrich their lives, and then give them a career. What that means to us is that we’re basically focused on recruiting people, assessing them, and selecting them,” said George Wilkinson, the company’s president. “We tell them that we’re going to bring you in at this wage and if you develop, you mature, you stay with us then if we can’t get you to the compensation level that we want you to get to, then we have other organizations that we’re partnering with that pay at that level.”

The recommendation is meaningful to other companies, Wilkinson said, because they know that the person they are hiring is dependable and has completed training to develop the skills that both companies’ workers need.
NorthGate’s executives recognize that their employees may face financial hardships outside of work that can hold them back from reaching their full potential and have created several programs that seek to provide added stability in the lives of their workers.

“We just had one individual that was on the brink of eviction, we paid $500 to take care of that eviction so that individual would be able to go home,” Wilkinson continued. “Many people have cars, but they’re not very functional. So, when they break down, we have relationships with car repair stores and they are going to give free labor, we pay for the parts, and get the cars back on the roads.”

“You’re giving them the skill to come from nothing and then an opportunity to get more,” Schuette said as he learned of these programs. “Isn’t that what America’s supposed to be?”

Schuette is considered the front-runner in the Republican primary for governor, with recent polling conducted by EPIC-MRA showing him at 33%, ahead of Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley at 18%, state Senator Patrick Colbeck at 10%, and Dr. Jim Hines at 6%.

One of three Democratic gubernatorial candidates will face the Republican nominee in the general election. Former Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer leads the race at 42%, followed by businessman Shri Thanedar at 19% and former director of the Detroit Health Department Abdul El-Sayed at 15%.

Polling on hypothetical general election match-ups shows Schuette losing to Whitmer and Thanedar but managing to chalk up a victory against El-Sayed.

Michigan’s gubernatorial election will be held on Aug. 7, followed by the general election on Nov. 6.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...