MSF approves guidelines for SOAR-funded programs

Economic development tools will position state to win ‘transformational, job-creating projects’ in years to come.

The Michigan Strategic Fund this month approved guidelines for two new programs that will provide the Michigan Economic Development Corporation with competitive, flexible economic development tools to secure business retention and attraction projects and provide opportunity for growth across Michigan.

The MSF on Jan. 11 approved the guidelines for the Strategic Site Readiness Program (SSRP) and the Critical Industry Program (CIP).

The programs are part of a package of legislation signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Dec. 20, which will help Michigan support long-term job creation and economic growth in communities throughout the state. The legislation was passed by the Michigan Legislature with strong bipartisan support and collaboration from labor leaders, economic development agencies and various business groups.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Courtesy state of Michigan

“These powerful new tools will support our ability to attract highly competitive projects that will create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, back our small businesses and generate billions of dollars in investment in communities throughout the state,” Whitmer said. “Thanks to the collaboration of business, legislative, economic development and community leaders, our state will be in a better position to win huge, transformational projects and compete effectively for every dollar and every job for decades to come.”

The CIP will empower Michigan to make game-changing investments critical to closing deals; create and preserve qualified jobs; and bring “significant capital investment” into Michigan by providing qualified businesses with grants, loans or other economic assistance.

The SSRP also will provide grants, loans and other economic assistance for the purpose of creating investment-ready sites to attract and promote investment in the state, helping to ensure an increased inventory of sites to support current and future projects.

Together, the programs will be funded through the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund, with initial funding appropriated at $1 billion.

Among the guidelines approved Jan. 11 was the requirement that any and all projects supported by the two programs will require approval from the MSF Board, consistent with all MSF project recommendations and ensuring continued transparency and accountability of public funds.

Upon MSF approval for projects through either the SSRP or the CIP, the process for legislative transfer of funds through the SOAR Fund will be initiated.

Additionally, as with other developments supported by the MSF, these projects will be required to meet certain performance milestones. If a project does not meet those, the state will be able to recuperate the funds in response and repurpose those funds in support of future projects.

Quentin L. Messer Jr. Courtesy MEDC

“Taken together, these programs will be absolutely vital for ensuring both businesses currently operating in our state — and new companies considering Michigan — need not look to invest anywhere else in North America but Michigan as they look to grow and expand,” said Quentin L. Messer Jr., CEO of the MEDC and president of the MSF. “These programs highlight how we are positioning Michigan for large-scale investments that accelerate growth in high-paying jobs, retain large customers for our small businesses and remain at the center of technological change for decades to come.”

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