Take Preserve Manufacturing Jobs Seriously

October 31, 2003
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Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week made her trek to Grand Rapids for a manufacturing business summit and was given a long list of leads upon which to follow up. If she has taken the time of crucial industry leaders to provide her an action list, it behooves the governor to take it seriously.

The attendant issues are varied and do not exclude current state policy. Granholm will not be taken seriously if her effort to preserve manufacturing jobs in the manufacturing state does not take to task the state impediments even as she aims at federal policies and continues to defend the debilitating business practices of the automotive Big Three.

Michigan Republican legislators also provided input last week with a nine-point list of potential legislative issues to consider. In preface, it must be said that the GOP has as much responsibility to hear the manufacturers as Granholm. The Small Business Association of Michigan applauded the GOP plan as “the right public policy for the state” but underscored what Granholm was told: state government regulations and taxation remain a significant burden especially for financially vulnerable small business start-ups.

Cascade Engineering Chairman and CEO Fred Keller has noted the enormous funding for research at the college and university level, and the fact that little has been used by Michigan institutions for commercial application. That such funding could provide for critical R&D funding for businesses and the provision of jobs (the types of jobs Michigan is attempting to recruit) is an enormous inequity of disabling proportion.

The GOP would attempt to assist with both a venture capital investment incentive (by offering income and Single Business Tax breaks) as well as tax incentives for small start-up businesses. The latter may be crucial as smaller firm startups will innovate and create.

Republican legislators also have proposed Tool & Die Recovery Zones offering tax relief similar to the Renaissance Zones, an idea applauded from every quarter.

Further, the proposal also addresses a Clean Michigan Initiative revolving loan program to clean up brownfield sites and to expedite the 2002 voter-approved Sewer Bond Initiative, allowing communities to begin the program sooner. The GOP plan also strengthens the Michigan Economic Development Corp. with small business and manufacturing leadership positions.

Metro area businesses also have proposed tax credits for retraining employees, bridging the gap between the old economy and the new economy.

Granholm seeks the input of Michigan’s entire manufacturing community through a Web site survey at www.michiganmanufacturing.org, which will be available until Nov. 10 to obtain further input. The survey, however, is limited to a series of choices or answers to specific questions. We would hope that the governor’s perspective is not so limited.

The answers already provided by industry leaders and the aggressive “big picture” approach offered by the GOP should receive immediate attention.    

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