MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday that Michigan could soon land large-scale business expansions that each total thousands or hundreds of jobs, but only if the state House quickly approves new economic development incentives.
Snyder, speaking at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Conference alongside other backers of the Senate-passed tax breaks, said he has talked to a couple of companies or their consultants that are exploring Michigan as a place to add roughly 2,000 jobs a piece. A couple others are looking to add about 300 jobs each, he said.
He declined to identify the businesses.
“I can look you straight in the eye and say, ‘These are real things,'” Snyder said during a news conference. “I’m proud of how Michigan’s already competing to get them. We have better talent, we have better utility resources, we have people working it hard, we have the skilled trades to build these places. But we need this as a tool to help be a closer.”
Those joining the Republican governor to prod the GOP-led House to act in June — before a summer break — included the Detroit Chamber president, Grand Rapids mayor, Oakland County deputy executive, Consumers Energy CEO, senators and others.
The legislation won overwhelming Senate approval in March, but no committee hearing has been held in the House. Some conservatives have criticized such targeted incentives as picking winners and losers.
The measures would authorize Michigan to let qualified companies adding jobs keep half or all of the income tax withholdings of the new employees for five or 10 years. The businesses would have to create at least 500 jobs that pay the regional average wage or, if they pay at least a quarter more than the regional average, at least 250 jobs.
Annual foregone revenue would be capped at $250 million. No more than 15 new projects could be approved each year.
At Snyder’s behest, the state stopped issuing new business tax credits beginning in 2012, instead favoring cash grants and loans for economic development. Snyder and the bills’ other advocates say the Good Jobs for Michigan initiative would apply only for new jobs, unlike the old Michigan Economic Growth Authority program.
“This is not a cash giveaway,” said Oakland County Deputy Executive Matt Gibb.
Michigan lost out three years ago when the world’s second-largest automotive glass supplier expanded into Ohio thanks to a nearly $10 million incentive from that state, Gibb said.
“We want strategic tools that allow us to make business cases for companies,” he said.
The company, Fuyao Automotive North America Inc., was awarded a $1 million grant this year under Michigan’s current incentives program, however, to open a new plant in Plymouth with 533 new jobs.
House Speaker Tom Leonard, a DeWitt Republican, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he has opposed targeted tax credits but is willing to sit down with Snyder and business leaders to hear their case. He recently voted for separate tax breaks to entice the redevelopment contaminated sites.
“It was one that I did not believe picked winners and losers and it was also a package of bills that I believed was the most conservative ways to clean up brownfield sites without the government having to step in and actually pay for it,” Leonard told the AP.