Some economic development officials are complaining of “collateral damage” from candidates and others who publicly discuss reining in Michigan’s generous array of targeted business subsidies and incentives. Last Saturday the Grand Rapids Press covered a roundtable discussion among four of the planners in an article titled "Politicians talk of killing tax incentives is hurting Michigan, economic developers say."

The central planners say that even having this "conversation" about economic development programs is harmful to the state. What this sounds like is, "stop pointing out our failures."

Here's an excerpt from the article, which features Birgit Klohs, CEO of the Grand Rapids-based economic development agency, The Right Place Inc.

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Klohs said such rhetoric only serves to hurt the state as corporations look for places to put their next factory or office. "Where we're suffering collateral damage is when we as a state publicly have conversations like this," she said. "Every site consultant in the world can read this and say, 'We're not going to Michigan because they can't decide if they're in or out.'"

If this represents the attitude of Michigan's economic development leadership, then it is no wonder they've built a wall of secrecy at the MEDC.

It's as if their goal is to prevent any independent analysis of whether their programs work and whether they're being carried out according to the law. It's difficult to imagine anything more inimical to the spirit of public service they presumably have pledged to uphold.


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