Lawmakers must win race to invest in future

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There are times in history when leaders are called upon to step up and act with a sense of urgency to meet a challenge or take advantage of an opportunity. In Michigan, that time is right now.

Through the federal American Rescue Plan, our state has received billions of dollars to address priorities like fixing aging infrastructure and investing in economic and talent development. If we play our cards right, these one-time federal funds can be leveraged to create new momentum for Michigan’s economy and new opportunities for communities and families across the state. Failing to act swiftly and strategically means falling behind other states like Ohio, Texas and Kentucky that are racing to develop and approve plans to invest their ARP funding.

A statewide coalition of public and private sector leaders has come together to develop a strategic plan for investing Michigan’s ARP resources. We call it the Michigan Prosperity Roadmap and we call on our state lawmakers in Lansing to seize this crucial moment in our state’s history by taking action right now to put Michigan on the road from recovery to prosperity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant harm to Michigan’s economy over the past 18 months, but if we act swiftly to invest in infrastructure, job training, economic development, new technologies and more, we will not only recover from the pandemic but also make sure that Michigan is at the forefront of the regional, national and global competition for new investments and new jobs.

The Michigan Prosperity Roadmap calls for major new investments in key areas that include expanding state economic incentive programs to restart development projects stalled by the pandemic, supporting the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Build Ready Sites program to prepare for large-scale investments, leveraging our state’s competitive advantage to strengthen the building material supply chain, and investing more than $300 million in job training and direct grants to small employers who have suffered the most during the pandemic.

No job sector in Michigan has been hit harder than the restaurant and hospitality industries. A recent survey found that nearly two-thirds of Michigan restaurant operators report that sales remain below pre-pandemic levels and half say they are less profitable than just three months ago. A whopping 87% of restaurants report that they don’t have enough employees to meet customer demand.

That’s why the Michigan Prosperity Roadmap calls for investments in facility improvements at restaurants, event spaces and banquet facilities; training resources to help create the next generation of hospitality workers; and a targeted incentive program to help restart Michigan’s event-based economy by offering a 15% credit against the hard costs associated with hosting a meeting or event through 2022. Colorado recently enacted a similar program that can serve as a model for Michigan.

At this crucial moment in Michigan’s history, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines while other states are racing down the track and making smart, strategic investments with their ARP funds that will power their economic recovery and create pathways to success for residents. 

Will Michigan lawmakers and our governor act now to ensure that Michigan leads the nation? Or will we lose a construction season, a transformational economic development project, or the opportunity to attract jobs and talent? By stepping up to meet the challenges and opportunities of this historic moment, our elected leaders can ensure a strong and prosperous Michigan for decades to come.

But that won’t happen if delay and indecision drive the car instead of the urgency other states are embracing. Contact your state legislators and tell them that if Michigan is going to win this race, the time to act is right now. Learn more about our comprehensive plan for Michigan’s future at miroadmap.com.

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