Friday, February 05, 2010

Pete Hoekstra Would Take Michigan Out of the Race For New Jobs

When we first blogged about the Dow Powerhouse solar shingle back in October, Dow was still weighing offers from other states as to where they would manufacture the final product. One of the nice surprises in the State of the State Address Wednesday was that Dow decided to stick close to home, thanks to the work from MEDC at putting together a nice incentive package. As much as the Republicans want to attack these incentives (How do you know when something is a success? Michigan Republicans will be sure and attack it), with 46 states all bending over backwards to get these jobs, it's something we must do. And we did. And we will see up to 1,200 jobs coming to the Midland area in the next few years because of it.

There will be 1,200 jobs that will be possible at the new facility by 2014, and if you add in other announced Dow projects, several thousand jobs are on the way to the Great Lakes Bay Region.

"There was tremendous interest from a lot of other states in having this program in their state," said Dow Solar Solutions General Manager Jane Palmiere.

But in the end Dow Chemical decided to manufacture the POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle at Dow's Michigan Operations, close to its research and development and marketing facilities.

"Michigan was outstanding in terms of putting together a very aggressive, very attractive incentive package for us," Palmiere said.

And as WJRT crows, this will add to the jobs already here, and the thousands in the pipeline...

About 800 jobs have been created for Dow Kokam's battery plant venture, 1,200 jobs in a proposed Dow-Tata Consultancy business center, and nearby, solar company Suniva has proposed 500 jobs in Saginaw County.

In addition, GlobalWatt is bringing 500 jobs to Saginaw in the next five years. It is a total of more than 4,200 jobs.

Those are just a few of the names that we have lured to Michigan to create thousands of jobs in a whole new solar industry - and this isn't even counting the spin-off jobs that will come to the area to service these workers and companies as they grow. This is proof positive that these incentives are working. And again, 46 states will be happy to take the business if we don't provide incentives such as these. It's a fact of life in these here Untied States today; everyone wants new jobs, and they will give you the world to locate in their state.

Today, Pete Hoekstra, in what has to be one of the tackiest, ungrateful moves ever, decided to piggy-back on Governor Granholm's visit to Energetx Composites in Holland. They are building industrial size wind turbine blades, and they plan to add 1,000 jobs within the next few years. They are receiving some money from the Recovery Act, but the bulk of the tax credits they are getting come from the state, and they will only come after they create the jobs.

David Slikkers, CEO of parent company S-2 Yachts (ed note: which diversified into wind energy as the yachting business slowed down), noted the company can't take advantage of the tax credits unless it delivers the new jobs.

"If we don't perform, then there is no money," said Slikkers. "It isn't like we are getting that without performance. I think there has to be accountability, not only for us, but for the government.

"We know some states simply give it away and there is no accountability. I think that is one of the safeguards we have in the state of Michigan to really protect the money that the state has."

Twitter Pete showed up to both take credit for and protest these jobs at the same time. Or something. Totally rude. Can't draw a crowd on your own, Pete?

U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland -- who Slikkers credited with helping land new business for the company -- reiterated his opposition to Granholm's approach to supporting industries with tax credits. He had his own press conference at Energetx, in which reporters gathered around to hear his side of the issue after Granholm's talk.

"We have 15 percent unemployment (in the state). We have to put tens of thousands of people back to work. Not a thousand," Hoekstra said. "Government can't go in and provide massive incentives to each single project because then we'll start driving some other people out."

Who are we "driving out"? And how so? This is just another one of those nebulous Republican claims that can't really be proven, and there doesn't seem to be any follow up when they make statements such as this. Who, exactly, is leaving because of this? Matter of fact, you can prove the opposite - more businesses will come in to support and supply these companies, more businesses will be kept afloat by the workers spending money in local establishments. No brainer.

And if we don't do it, someone else surely will. While it would be nice to live in a world where major tax credits aren't necessary, bending over for business is a game that the Republicans created in the first place - and now they want to cry when it's a success, but only when it's a success for Democrats, right?

Right. Tell that to the thousands of workers who will be getting jobs in our new green economy, and be thankful that those jobs aren't located in some other state. If Pete had his way, these jobs wouldn't have been created in Michigan. Something to keep in mind as the year rolls on - it may come in handy later.