Clean water, good roads and safe bridges are essential parts of Michigan’s tourism industry. Our Great Lakes make our beautiful state a unique travel destination for people from all over the world.

Michigan’s roads and bridges connect the upper and lower peninsulas and make it possible for people to enjoy the natural wonders our state has to offer.

Amazing destinations like Glen Arbor, Holland, Traverse City, Charlevoix and Frankenmuth depend on tourism to support their local economies, local small businesses and countless jobs. Roads and bridges are a key ingredient for strong tourism because people from all over drive to destinations across our state for a break from the hustle and bustle and to immerse themselves in our Pure Michigan way of life.

Unfortunately, Michigan roads are some of the worst in the nation.

According to the Fixing Michigan’s Roads Plan by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, 78 percent of state roads are currently in good or fair condition, but the number of roads in poor condition is forecast to double, from 22 to 44 percent in just the next five years.

Gov. Whitmer recently visited Glen Arbor to shine a light on the need to preserve and protect our Great Lakes.

She also expressed the urgency of passing a budget that includes investment in Michigan’s infrastructure. As a small business person, I applaud her efforts and applaud her for putting forth such a bold and innovative plan.

Gov. Whitmer’s budget is a solution for fixing Michigan’s deteriorating roads and making sure Michigan tourism remains strong.

Gov. Whitmer’s budget plan would raise and invest $2.5 billion annually to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure including roads, bridges and make necessary safety upgrades. Her budget also includes investment in clean drinking water and protecting our Great Lakes.

I support Gov. Whitmer’s plan because it will make sure people from all over Michigan and around the world can enjoy our beautiful state.

My business, and many of the communities that surround Glen Arbor, depend on strong tourism throughout the year and it’s essential we fix Michigan’s roads right the first time and ensure our Great Lakes remain healthy for generations to come. The longer we wait, the greater the impact on our tourism industry.

Investing in high-quality infrastructure will attract visitors, support our local economies, improve safety and increase access to some of the nation’s most treasured natural landmarks like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Mackinac Island and many more.

Our state’s tourism industry and economic future depends on improved roads and infrastructure.

I encourage our elected leaders to work together to find a solution that protects our Great Lakes and fixes our crumbling infrastructure before it’s too late.

About the author: Bob Sutherland is the president of Cherry Republic.