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Voters Overwhelmingly Agree: Michigan Should Offer Competitive Economic Incentives

Voters, regardless of party, agree that economic development incentives are essential tools to Michigan’s ability to compete with other states.

And they agree in an overwhelming fashion – by nearly 84% -– that Michigan should offer similar incentives as other states to compete for jobs and investment.

That was the key takeaway of a recent statewide poll released by the Detroit Regional Chamber, Business Leaders for Michigan, and the Michigan Manufacturers Association less than two months after Ford Motor Company’s announcement of major investments in new electric vehicle plants in Kentucky and Tennessee.

“If Michigan is not competitive with other states in attracting and retaining good jobs, we risk losing not just job opportunities today, but well into the future – and voters clearly understand this and overwhelmingly support policies to keep our state competitive,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “The bipartisan consensus around the importance of economic development policy should serve as a rallying point for Michigan to take the necessary steps to ensure we are competitive with the rest of the country.”

There were other findings in the poll that suggest that Michigan voters want a greater emphasis on economic development efforts and fear that the state is losing its grip on the automotive and mobility leadership.

Other key takeaways include:

Voters Across Political Spectrum Rate Economic Development a High Priority

  • 88.3% of Michigan voters said it was important to them that Michigan be rated a top state for attracting new jobs and expanding businesses, while only 8.2% said it was not important.
  • Voters rated the importance of being able to compete with other states at a 7.7 on a 10.0-point scale.
  • By a margin of 83.6%-12.8%, Michigan voters agree that big projects are good for small businesses by creating more customers and increasing sales for surrounding small businesses.

83.8% of Michiganders Say State Should Offer Similar Incentives to Win Projects

  • When asked if they agree or disagree with the statement that, “At the very least, Michigan should offer similar incentives as other states so that we can compete for jobs and investment.” 83.8% of Michigan voters agree that the state should offer similar incentives as other states. 59.8% of Michigan voters STRONGLY AGREE that the state should offer similar incentives as other states.

Should Michigan Offer Similar Incentives As Other States

Party Affiliation      Agree     Disagree

Lean Democratic   90.0%       6.0%

Independent          86.8%        9.6%

Lean Republican    74.2%       17.8%

Strong Republican  88.7%        5.0%

79.5% Support Michigan Offering Similar Incentive Packages

  • Respondents were told that Tennessee approved a $900 million incentive package and Kentucky approved a $400 million incentive package for Ford. They were asked if they would support or oppose Michigan offering similar incentive packages if that is what it would take to win similar projects and keep the jobs in Michigan. By a margin of 79.5%-12.2%, Michigan voters said they would support similar incentive packages if it kept the projects in Michigan. 59.5% would STRONGLY SUPPORT similar incentive packages.

74.3% of Voters Support Sen. Horn Economic Development Bill

  • By a margin of 74.3%-16.3%, Michigan voters support a proposed economic development bill by State Senator Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) that would allow up to 40 incentive packages over the next five years including fifteen projects in small counties creating at least 50 jobs, fifteen project in mid-size counties creating at least 100 jobs, and 10 project in large counties that created at least 250 jobs.

83.2% Support Direct Financial Incentives Tied to Job Creation

  • By a margin of 83.2%-12.0%, voters support Michigan offering incentives similar to Indiana’s 100% income tax credit, Texas grants of $10,000 per new job created, and Tennessee’s $500 million cash incentive to Ford.
  • 58.7% of Michigan voters STRONGLY SUPPORT direct cash incentives provided that the incentive money is tied to a specific promise to create a minimum number of jobs or the company would have to return the incentives.

72.0% Support Michigan Purchasing/Preparing Mega-Sites

  • By a margin of 72.0%-19.6%, Michigan voters support the state purchasing and preparing the sites necessary to compete for large scale economic development projects like those provided by Kentucky and Tennessee for the Ford Motor projects.

71.5% Support Using A.R.P. Funds to Prepare Sites for Future Projects

  • By a margin of 71.5%-19.7%, Michigan voters support using $500 million to $1 billion in American Rescue Plan dollars to purchase and prepare sites so that Michigan can compete for economic development projects that would bring thousands of new jobs to the state of Michigan.

“States around the country have been working for decades to strengthen their economic competitiveness and create tools to win jobs,” said Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “With the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, shifts in the auto industry to electric vehicles and changes to the way we work, Michigan will need to act quickly to improve our economic development. While the best time to invest was 10-20 years ago, the next-best time to invest in our future prosperity is today.”

“The technological transformation to electric vehicles will happen quickly, and as the leading automotive state, Michigan must take steps to ensure the future of the automotive industry remains in Michigan,” said John Walsh, President & CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “Future investment in Michigan protects both smaller and larger companies throughout the supply chain, so we encourage policymakers to act to protect Michigan’s manufacturing future economy.”

Glengariff Group, Inc. conducted the statewide survey of 600 registered voters on November 14 to 19th. The survey was commissioned by Business Leaders for Michigan.