Guest Column

Michigan gets crucial economic development tool to grow more, better jobs

August 4, 2017
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West Michigan has been fortunate to make the tops of a lot of lists lately, from starting a business and making a living to raising a family and so many more. And Grand Rapids was just this month noted for being the fastest-growing economy in the entire country. It’s also one of the most affordable. That says a lot. That shows that we’re doing key things right. The recognition is heartening and emblematic of the hard work and collaboration that is taking place to build a vibrant, growing region.  

But we also know that competition — nationally and globally — is fierce. And that Michigan was one of only two states in the country without a vital job attraction and economic development tool of tax incentives to compete for larger projects with hundreds of good-paying jobs.

I know and saw that first-hand as president & CEO of The Right Place, meeting with current and prospective businesses looking to expand or come to the area. This gap was simply keeping Michigan and our region off too many company location decision lists. It was letting other states lure away the businesses and jobs that should be coming to or growing right here in West Michigan or other communities across the state. 

Thankfully, many forward-looking lawmakers in our region and statewide, along with the governor, recognized this evolving, real-world reality and passed the Good Jobs for Michigan legislation on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis of 71 yes votes in the House and 85 percent support in the Senate. We applaud these 20 West Michigan representatives and senators for their leadership on this critical issue:

Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids; Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming; Rep. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids; Rep. Julie Calley, R-Portland; Rep. Daniela Garcia, R-Holland Township; Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague; Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township; Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake; Rep. Terry Sabo, D-Muskegon; Rep. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington; Rep. Scott VanSingel, R-Grant; Rep. Rob Verheulen, R-Walker; Rep. Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville; Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township; Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart; Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell Township; Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford; Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive; and Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek.

This legislative package will help keep and enhance our momentum. It also is essential to growing our communities and economy and ensuring they are strong for years to come.

Good-paying jobs are the lifeblood of our communities. They help us provide opportunities for our residents and families, ensure a strong quality of life, strengthen our neighborhoods and bolster our schools, infrastructure, public safety and other core services.

We know that Grand Rapids, West Michigan and the Great Lakes State have what it takes otherwise to compete and win — this now levels the playing field.

It ensures we’re on the map and shows firms everywhere that Michigan is open for business. It means communities and Michiganders across both our peninsulas will benefit tremendously from this policy to help grow jobs, opportunities and paychecks. And it makes sure that we’re at the top of even more key lists in the years to come. That’s the kind of smart, sound public policy that works for both current and future generations.

Birgit Klohs is president & CEO of The Right Place, Inc. and a proud member of the 65-plus Good Jobs for Michigan coalition.

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