Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy in Action > Michigan Legislature Reaches Bipartisan Deal, Designates Nearly $850 Million in Funds to SOAR

Michigan Legislature Reaches Bipartisan Deal, Designates Nearly $850 Million in Funds to SOAR

September 29, 2022

The Michigan Legislature passed more than $1 billion in supplemental spending bills on Wednesday, Sept. 28, which will designate nearly $850 million in funds to the state’s Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund.

Sandy Baruah headshot

“Today’s investment in the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund is a win for Michigan’s competitiveness. The work between Michigan’s legislative leadership and the Governor to increase SOAR funding is bipartisan collaboration at its finest,” said Sandy K. Baruah, Detroit Regional Chamber’s president and Chief Executive Officer. “The Detroit Regional Chamber and MICHauto, which championed the establishment of SOAR in 2021, applaud the work accomplished today and will continue to advocate for investment in resources to ensure Michigan’s long-term competitiveness.”

RELATED: Historic Economic Development Package Passed with MICHauto and Chamber Advocacy

Additionally, the supplemental includes:

  • $496 million for future economic investments ($206 million of which is re-appropriated from the prior year)
  • $350 million for site development statewide, including:
    • Grants to regional and local economic development organizations
    • Strategic site improvements
    • Remediation and redevelopment for future projects
  • $27 million for upgrades to secure an investment from Hemlock Semiconductor, bringing the supply chain of chips home from China to Michigan

“In addition to responding to opportunities that happen to come to Michigan, I think we should be proactive and take a look at sites across our state … then be working on those in advance so they’re not always being done just for a specific project or a specific opportunity,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said to Crain’s Detroit Business on Wednesday. “I look at them as assets of taxpayers. Let’s develop some of those assets and make them ready so that we can react quicker when opportunities come along.”

Lowering the Cost of College Tuition

The supplemental creates the Michigan Achievement Scholarship to make college more affordable for families across Michigan, grow Michigan’s talent pool, and get the state closer to achieving its Sixty by 30 goals, which were adopted from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees program.

Starting with the class of 2023, high school graduates will be eligible for more financial aid from the state, up to:

  • $2,750 per year if they attend a community college
  • $5,500 per year if they attend a public university
  • $4,000 per year if they attend a private college or university

Students will be eligible if their family demonstrates financial need when they complete the FAFSA. The Michigan Achievement Scholarship will cover:

  • 94% of students attending community colleges
  • 76% of students attending a public university
  • 79% of students attending a private college or university

“We’re raising the bar here in Michigan for our workforce and our students. The economic growth this investment will spur means opportunity and stability for our working families as we attract more jobs in innovative fields and the scholarship funds mean a greater freedom for students to pursue a career they are passionate about with the hard earned skills and education we’re making more accessible,” said House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township). “These are the big, meaningful, durable investments in Michigan’s future Democrats are working tirelessly to deliver.”

RELATED: Detroit Drives Degrees’ primary goal is to increase the postsecondary attainment rate to 60% by 2030 and cut the racial equity gap in half.

The new chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township), said it is crucial to keep building on the SOAR fund’s successes.

“It’s imperative that we continue these investments and remain competitive as other states like Tennessee work to attract employment opportunities from auto manufacturers,” she said. “This reserve ensures Michigan retains and attracts stable, well-paying jobs and sends a message to other states that we will fight to keep them here.”

The bills will now be sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for her signature.

RELATED: Senate Panel OKs Bills to Permanently Refill New Economic Development Fund