Just Get Out Of The Way, Please

October 30, 2007
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And the tired beat goes on. As Lansing wallows in political entrenchment and inefficiency, we hear more tales of frustration and concern regarding the state leaders’ inability to spit out their partisan pacifiers and get down to real business.

A bold new economic development project in Walker, the Orchard Park complex is snagged in part by ongoing “negotiations” with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. regarding the vital issue of tax increment financing for the project (see story, page 1).

Wyoming City Hall officials indicated last week they are “just kind of waiting” to hear what the MEDC’s decision is. A representative for the project’s developer, which has commitments from Cabela’s officials to locate on the site if all elements of a financing plan can be put in place, was understandably guarded in analyzing the status of the negotiations. It’s not satisfactory to let state officials off the hook because they may be “preoccupied” with other matters.

Neither is it acceptable to hold up a plan to use a 138,000-square-foot building donated by Pfizer Inc. in Holland as a center to advance research in biofuels, chemicals and materials that are plant sources and renewable resources, as state budgeters play dangerously with Michigan’s economic future and hold up a relatively small investment in that important project.

Efforts have been made for months to leverage millions of dollars in local private sector funds in order to raise up to $4 million in state dollars for five years. The money from the state would accompany donation of the $50 million facility from Pfizer Inc. to Michigan State University.

The unwarranted delay on the state level to support the likely economic catalyst for the lakeshore area, and for all of West Michigan, was assailed by one project supporter last week who is frustrated in his ongoing attempts to get state legislative leaders to take the effort seriously. The ugly wrath of “term limits” immediately jumps to mind for this advocate and other realists who understand the damaging impact the revolving doors of the state capital are having on economic advancement in Michigan. Abolishing term limits may be one future solution, but it doesn’t address today’s concerns.

Business is not going to wait for clear thinkers to emerge. They will just ply their trade elsewhere. It’s a warning that can’t be sounded loud enough.

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