With the upcoming retirement of Senator Carl Levin, Michigan has an open seat in the U.S. Senate for the first time in 20 years. One of the candidates trying to succeed Levin has been visiting the Upper Peninsula for the last several days.

Congressman Gary Peters represents half of Detroit, and many communities immediately north of Detroit, in Washington. He’s one of two Democratic candidates that have declared their intention to run for Levin’s seat.

“The thing that I focus on, more than anything else, is that we’ve got to have a strong middle class in this country,” Peters said. “Everybody who aspires to be in the middle class should have those ladders of opportunity. This trip has been about learning about some of the unique resources here in the Upper Peninsula.”

During his visit to Donckers in Marquette this morning, Peters learned about the HUD Community Development Block Grant that will help refurbish the former Delft Theater next door. The Community Development Block Grant program is at risk of elimination in Congressional budget cuts.

“I was a businessman for over 22 years before being in public service and was in the investment business,” Peters said. “We have to invest. In order to grow a community, in order to create jobs, you have to invest. Community Development Block Grants are part of that, and when you make those investments, you create jobs, and when you create jobs, you generate tax revenue, which reduces the deficit.”

Peters visited Escanaba on Thursday, Iron Mountain on Friday and then Baraga and Houghton Counties on Saturday. His listening tour continued to Munising this afternoon and will stop in Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace tomorrow before moving into the Lower Peninsula.