The Michigan Legislature has made a major mid-term investment in the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund, a priority economic development item of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s legislative priorities. House Bill 4001 includes up to $500 million in investment into the SOAR Fund each year for the next three years.
Michigan is fighting to grow its economy and the SOAR fund is a tool that has shown it can be successful in growing Michigan’s current companies, landing new companies from around the country, and onshore new companies from around the world.
To be competitive for the industries of tomorrow, Michigan needs a program that can make the needed investment in site development where we are woefully behind. The SOAR fund has shown its ability to attract the industries of tomorrow and make Michigan the place companies want to be.
View more details in the Crain’s Detroit Business article below.
Crain’s Detroit Business
Feb. 28, 2023
Legislature approves $1.3 billion spending bill with $630 million for Ford site
LANSING — The Michigan Senate approved $1.3 billion in new spending late Tuesday, including $630 million in funding to prepare the site of a planned Ford Motor Co. electric vehicle battery plant in the Marshall area.
The package also has $205 million in aid for financially struggling hospitals and nursing homes.
The bill was passed 22-16 by the Democratic-led chamber, with two Republicans joining all 20 Democrats in support. The vote came hours after the legislation was unveiled by the Senate Appropriations Committee and capped a session that lasted more than 13 hours.
The measure, a priority for Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, was sent to the Democratic-controlled House. It would allocate:
- $330 million for road improvements to facilitate Ford’s $3.5 billion, 2,500-job plant on approximately 750 acres of the Marshall megasite. Plans include an expansion of M-96 from two lanes to four, intersection upgrades and reconstruction of interchanges on I-94 and I-69. The spending would also accommodate future business growth at the 1,900-acre site, according to a state document presented to the House Appropriations Committee last week.
- $300 million for the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance to buy land and prepare the site for Ford.
- $170 million for Michigan’s Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund. It was not immediately clear how that deposit ultimately would be spent, though the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has requested $120 million go toward the Marshall site on top of the $630 million being disbursed in the bill. It would be up to the House and Senate budget panels to transfer SOAR dollars toward the project.
The votes took place about two weeks after the Michigan Strategic Fund authorized $1 billion in direct incentives for the Dearborn-based automaker to build the factory, including a $210 million grant and a tax break worth $772 million over 15 years.
Of the $205 million for the health care industry, $75 million would be designated for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association to award to providers for recruitment, retention and training. An additional $67 million in grants would go to nursing home operators and nonprofit health care training organizations to stabilize and improve staffing in long-term care settings.
About $63.5 would cover a 2 percent Medicaid reimbursement increase retroactive to Jan. 1.
The bill also would set aside $60 million to create community centers through a grant program. The maximum grant would be $2.5 million each for acquisition, planning, construction, programming and development.
Sen. Thomas Albert, a Lowell Republican, voted against the legislation. He said he wanted to learn the terms of the deal with Ford, noting his district includes the factory site. He asked how long the jobs must last, sought clawback provision details and questioned Ford’s partnering with a Chinese company, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., for technology.
“I want jobs and economic development for the Marshall community and for Michigan as a whole as well, but not at any and all costs,” Albert said. “This is why governments fail time and time again at economic incentives. You have to know when to walk away from a deal.”
Citing the $1.7 billion in total incentives for the project, he said the cost per job would be about $680,000 and the average annual pay — about $45,000 — would be approximately 15 percent below the median household income for Calhoun County.
Backers of the Ford project have said called it a “generational investment,” one that would help bring the supply chain for EV batteries to the U.S. amid the electrification of vehicles, create jobs and revitalize the region east of Battle Creek.
Republican Sens. John Damoose of Harbor Springs and Joe Bellino of Monroe supported the bill.
It would allot funding for two community colleges in Damoose’s district — nearly $9.9 million for a career and technical education complex at North Central Michigan College and $3.7 million for the student aviation center at Northwestern Michigan College.
The measure also would allocate $212 million in non-discretionary federal dollars for homeowners, landlords and other entities to do energy-efficiency updates.