Thursday, February 25, 2010


17,321. That is the number of estimated new jobs to Michigan, announced today by Governor Granholm and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Who are these people?

A company that will manufacture equipment for commercial, retail, and military aircraft. A company that will work with engineering, assembly and integration of battery powertrain systems for fleet and high mileage vehicles. An IT consulting company. A recycler and processor of scrap tires. A boat manufacturer that is trying to return to previous high production levels. A global supplier of catalytic converters and exhaust systems, building a new tech center. A designer and builder of advanced dynamometer systems. A company establishing its North American headquarters to conduct R & D to produce electrolyte for advanced lithium ion battery cells. And, previously hinted at and now made official, a company that is rapidly expanding its solar shingle line, working on a composite for wind turbine blades, and building an advanced battery for electric/hybrid vehicles, bringing $1 billion in green energy investment and nearly 7,000 new jobs to the Midland area.

Yes, that last one was Dow, and they could have gone anywhere, as could any of these companies, firms that are bringing both the advanced manufacturing and high growth renewable energy jobs that every state craves. Usually, companies and MEDC are reluctant to reveal who was in the competition, but lately the announcements have been trying to prove a point. Here is the list from today, with the total number of jobs, and locations we had to compete with:

  • Advanced Integrated Tooling Solutions LLC, 1,435 jobs, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.
  • ALTe LLC, 1,147 jobs, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois and Ohio.
  • CIBER Inc, 1,394 jobs, Florida.
  • Cobalt Holdings LLC, 187 jobs, Indiana.
  • Four Winns LLC, 5,255 jobs, Minnesota, Tennessee.
  • Katcon USA Inc, 74 jobs, Mexico.
  • Sakor Technologies, 46 jobs, Colorado.
  • TSC Michigan Inc, 1,673 total jobs, South Korea.

  • National and international competition. Every month. And although today's release don't mention specific locations, Michigan was facing national and global competition to land the Dow projects, too. Tennessee was mentioned at one point, as they have operations down there already. Whoever we beat out, this was huge.

    The first involves $5 million in funding approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund for a wind turbine project. Also, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved a $42 million tax credit for the second phase of Dow Kokam’s lithium battery manufacturing facility and a 100 percent employment tax credit for 15 years for up to 1,700 net new employees for the Dow POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle facility.

    “We’re working hard to make Michigan the clean energy capital of North America and these Dow alternative energy projects certainly move us closer to that goal,” Gov. Jennifer Granholm said in an interview before of the announcements.

    Read more on the Dow announcement here. It's a monster. Governor Granholm has a post about it on HuffPo as well.

    So, every month we get an announcement on how our economic development team has landed these companies. Sometimes they don't pan out, but most of the time they do. Working backwards from today: January, 5,210 jobs, 7 companies. December, 9,067 created and retained jobs, 10 companies, plus many brownfield redevelopment efforts, November, 13,499 created and retained jobs, 10 companies, more brownfields. And so on, stretching all the way back to the days of John Engler, who created the program in the first place... after first trying to dismantle it.

    Former Gov. John Engler largely eliminated state tax incentives after he was elected in 1990. But he soon restored them after Michigan quickly gained a reputation around the country as having unilaterally disarmed in the war among the states for business investment.

    Engler created the MEDC and MEGA, the state's two major economic development program that are regularly under fire from fellow conservatives.

    To this day, MEDC is under fire from "conservatives", namely the money controlling the mouths at the Mackinac Center, who apparently are now directing the Republican candidates for governor. We have pointed that out before concerning Pete Hoekstra; the other candidates are quickly following suit and saying "Me too! I'll disarm Michigan too!" Today, Rick Haglund takes notice of Bouchard, and on his new blog, he sounds the alarm.

    Republican Mike Bouchard, Oakland County's sheriff, said Wednesday he would eliminate the targeted tax credit program if he is elected governor in November. The cheers you hear are coming from economic development offices in other states.

    Haglund notes that Snyder and Cox are in agreement, and we've already got Hoekstra too, so that basically is all of the major Republican candidates saying they would not pursue these jobs. Insanity.

    But (MEDC President Greg) Main said he doesn't believe the state can walk away from targeted tax incentives. Companies have come to expect lucrative tax breaks in exchange for capital investment and will go where they can get them.

    And the stakes are getting higher. Main told me he's increasingly concerned that other states are front-loading incentives and offering up-front cash to lure new investment. Michigan's MEGA program offers tax credits over a number of years that are only received by the companies when they create the jobs promised.

    Cash up front is a concern, but with most states facing a huge money crunch in their budgets, it's doubtful that they can come up with those kinds of offers on a repeated basis. But, 46 of them are offering those job and zoning tax credits, and with high unemployment a nationwide problem, the competition is fierce indeed.

    Chances are the Republicans are just blowing the dog whistle to the right for the primaries, because no serious person would suggest the Michigan commit economic suicide such as this. But why take that chance?

    17,321. This month alone. Jobs that wouldn't be here if the extremists on the right controlled this state. Think about it, and act accordingly this fall.