Economic development cuts threaten state’s momentum in attracting and retaining talent

76

In recent years, we have seen Michigan’s economic momentum build, creating more and better-paying jobs for Michigan workers, more vibrant communities for residents across the state and establishing Michigan as a world-class business location and travel destination.

That is why the $26 million reduction to the programs that are directly responsible for driving this momentum in the FY20 budget sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is so concerning. Setting a historic low for investment in critical economic development activities threatens to reverse this momentum and sends the wrong signal to companies and industries looking to invest and grow here in the state.

Earlier this year, we collectively celebrated the news that Fiat Chrysler would invest $4.5 billion in Michigan — including the largest investment in an automotive assembly plant in the U.S. in over a decade — bringing more than 6,400 new jobs to Detroit and Macomb County. This is not just a win for southeast Michigan. As a state, we stand to benefit immensely. Michigan is home to so many of FCA’s automotive suppliers from tier one on down impacted by the investment. The state also will see $800 million in cumulative net new tax revenue by 2029 as a result of the jobs being created. 

Consider the impact Pfizer’s recent investment of $465 million for a new production facility in Portage will have on the Kalamazoo area. The company is creating more than 450 jobs with salaries of $70,100-$93,300 — exactly the sort of high wage growth in an industry that will help ensure a more resilient economy and attract new talent here to the state. Pfizer could have chosen from one of 13 global manufacturing locations, but they chose Michigan.

These well-paying jobs will have ripple effects throughout the community and will positively impact the entire West Michigan region — and beyond.

These are the investments — in jobs and in our communities — that we will be leaving on the table if we continue down a road of disinvestment in economic development as a state.

Speaking of communities, the $26 million cut in funding doesn’t just impact our ability to attract new businesses. It will significantly constrain efforts to support and grow vibrant communities in the state that attract businesses and the workers they need. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation already has had to pause plans to fund the award-winning Façade Restoration Initiative in FY20 due to uncertainty this budget has caused.

Efforts like these provide communities with essential support to strengthen our main streets, revitalize downtowns and provide the amenities that will retain and attract the talent so critical to Michigan’s future success.

We cannot take for granted the influx of good-paying jobs, the investment in attractive places in both rural and urban areas, and our state’s rising national profile. We must continue to invest in the programs that build the foundation for this success. We urge the Legislature to support a FY20 supplemental budget bill to fund economic development efforts of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation at a level that will ensure that together, we continue making Michigan an even more vibrant state to live, work and play.

Mark Hackel is Macomb County executive, and Ron Kitchens is senior partner and CEO of Southwest Michigan First.

Facebook Comments