Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy in Action > Gov. Whitmer Signs Economic Development Legislation with MICHauto And Chamber Advocacy

Gov. Whitmer Signs Economic Development Legislation with MICHauto And Chamber Advocacy

December 21, 2021
On Monday, Dec. 20, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the bipartisan Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) package to support small businesses and fully fund a historic economic development toolkit to make Michigan a national leader in business attraction.

Over the past month, MICHauto and the Chamber have been leading advocacy efforts pushing for a more robust economic development toolkit, working in coordination with the governor’s administration and Republican leadership to move beyond Ford’s recent battery plant announcement and position the state to win future transformational projects and retain its global automotive leadership.

“Big bipartisan wins for Michigan are increasingly rare, especially ones that have a transformative impact on our economy. Michigan created and owned the automotive industry since its inception, but leadership today does not ensure leadership into the future — especially in light of other states gunning for our assets,” said Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “The Chamber and MICHauto, along with partners across the state, are proud to have worked with the Legislature and Governor’s office to pass the biggest bipartisan deal in Michigan since the 2019 bill signing at the Mackinac Policy Conference, which will allow our state to compete and win the jobs of the future.”

What’s In the Legislation

  • The governor signed House Bill 4603 to create a $1 billion economic development fund to ensure the state can compete for billions of dollars in investment and attract tens of thousands of jobs to bolster our economy.
  • The governor signed Senate Bill 771 to create a $500 million fund to make our economy more adaptable to the rapid pace of technological change, supporting small businesses, and creating or retaining good-paying jobs.
  • Additionally, the governor signed Senate Bill 769 to create a financing mechanism for both programs and Senate Bill 85 to provide full funding to start delivering for Michiganders right away.
  • SB 85 will also provide direct assistance to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This transformative economic development package will build on Michigan’s growing economic momentum.

“Today, I signed a package of bills that will put Michiganders first and continue building on our economic momentum,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Thanks to the effective collaboration between legislative leadership, my administration, and community and business leaders, I signed bills that will back small businesses and empower Michigan to grow and attract billions in investment and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. Because both parties in the legislature came together, our state will be able win huge, transformational projects and compete effectively for every dollar and every job for decades to come.”

Chamber and MICHauto Advocacy

The Chamber and MICHauto were able to deploy the full advocacy team in Lansing and the Detroit Region to connect with legislators and push for the passage of the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund bills. MICHauto’s expertise provided legislators with information on why these incentives were critical to secure the state’s continued leadership in the global automotive industry. Finally,

MICHauto and the Chamber were instrumental throughout negotiations by utilizing the strength of our bipartisan relationships to secure passage.

“Winning new investment and ensuring Michigan remains the leader in electric and autonomous vehicle technology is critical to our state’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive & Mobility Initiatives for the Chamber.  “This legislation will help Michigan compete and win its share of transformational projects. The Legislature should be applauded for its bipartisan work on these bills – given the unprecedented investment being made in the automotive industry, it could not have come at a more critical time.”

What Other State Leaders Are Saying

At the bill signing, Governor Whitmer was joined by House Speaker Jason Wentworth and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, who were instrumental in the passage of these bills.

“Michigan is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. But our business climate is still holding us back from what we can be. Small businesses are struggling to fully reopen, large employers are picking other states for long-term investments, and far too many local workers are still on the sidelines. We need to step in and provide a shot in the arm that will lead to new opportunities for everyone. That is exactly what these bills do,” said House Speaker Jason Wentworth. “With this plan, we are giving small businesses a way to create new jobs in every corner of the state. We are helping large employers keep more opportunities here at home where they belong. And we are providing certainty, stability and opportunity to people worried about making ends meet when they sit down to pay their monthly bills. Those are the kind of results hard-working families need to see from their state government.”

“With the actions we are affirming today, we are not just demonstrating Michigan is ‘in the game,’ we are establishing our seat at the table, side by side with investors who recognize the value of Michigan and its unique assets,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. “Purposeful budgeted actions will now replace the uncertainty of mortgaged futures. This first significant step must be accompanied by a disciplined commitment to improving and leading in every category, and, most importantly, friendly to moms and dads and families.”

“Make no mistake: this is an important beginning,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We appreciate the incredible diligence, hard work and collaborative approach to position Michigan for large-scale investments that accelerate growth in high-paying jobs, retain large customers for our small businesses and remain at the center of technological change for decades to come.”