Friday, June 12, 2009

Biden Announces $2 Billion More for Michigan Recovery

Update: Added pics 6/13. Now with more Bideness!

I just about dropped the camera. My first thought was, "Say what? Did I hear that right?". My second thought was, "Oh please can we put it toward the budget so I don't have to listen to Bishop all summer long ohpleaseohpleaseohplease". Governor was a happy camper - if she knew beforehand, she sure didn't let on. Smiled a lot more after that announcement, that's for sure.

No, we can't put it toward the budget, but it looks like most, if not all, counties in Michigan will be eligible for these bonds, and three counties are looking at some major $$. Here is how the Treasury Dept. put it:

As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to stimulate economic growth in states supporting the core of the US automotive industry, the U.S. Treasury Department announced $2 billion in bonds authority available under the Recovery Zone Bonds program for Michigan, the most money per capita for any state. Created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), Recovery Zone Bonds are targeted to areas particularly affected by job loss and will help multiple counties in Michigan obtain financing for much needed economic development projects, such as public infrastructure development.

“Creating the conditions for economic recovery requires addressing the challenges facing auto communities,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “State budgets have been scaled back and local services cut at a time when they are most needed. Turning things around requires innovative strategies, which is what the Recovery Act has provided in the form of the Recovery Zone Bonds. The new financing tools provided by Recovery Zone Bonds will help Michigan obtain the funds needed to revitalize our communities.”

Michigan counties are three of the top ten recipients of Recovery Zone Bond allocations:

$260 million for Oakland County Michigan
$196 million for Wayne County, Michigan
$125 million for Detroit City, Michigan
A breakdown for the entire state can be found here.

VP Biden is a great speaker. It's hard for me to really listen and shoot at the same time, but the parts that I caught indicate that he really understands what we are going through here. He gets the blue collar work ethic, he knows what it means to a family, to a community, when people lose jobs. He predicted that GM will emerge from bankruptcy quickly, and he fell all over himself praising our elected officials - especially the governor. Christoff from the Freep has the best short summary:

Biden said the U.S. Department of Treasury will issue $2 billion in bonds for Michigan – called recovery zone bonds – which drew whoops of joy from Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who hugged Biden on the outdoor stage before a crowd of about 200 at a Kalamazoo high school. The site overlooked a stretch of I-94 that will undergo a$48 million reconstruction, with four new bridges, paid for with federal stimulus money.

Biden said the recovery bonds will be targeted to states most hard-hit by the economy. Biden said the three metro Detroit counties will be among the top 10 counties in the U.S. in the amount they receive under the new program.

Biden said Michigan should be at the center of a national recovery, and touted the road construction project as a sign of economic opportunity the stimulus money is bringing across the country. Biden said Michigan has suffered more than any other state from the national recession, and praised Granholm for what he called her enduring optimism and efforts to bring new jobs to the state.
The Detroit News story on the event is here.

Big thanks once again to the Obama people for inviting us to these events. I have always been treated with the utmost respect, and I've never had a problem with getting credentials. For someone who always has doubts as to whether or not I really belong here - it feels great to be included as regular "media".