Economic Development

A Uniquely Overqualified Candidate

LaFaive's satirical cover letter for MEDC job

LaFaive's satirical cover letter for MEDC job. … more

Right-to-Work Should be Judged on Economic Data

Corporate welfare inquiries not a good barometer of success

Corporate welfare inquiries not a good barometer of success. … more

Trim Corporate Welfare to $0

State Loses 200,000 Jobs, MEDC Finds 2,185

Why tax cuts are better than corporate welfare

Why tax cuts are better than corporate welfare. … more

Little Disclosure on Business Subsidies

Deals could eat up half of budget surplus

Deals could eat up half of budget surplus. … more

Don't Extend Granholm's 'Blown Away' Program

Demand accountability instead

Legislators should demand accountability from MEDC. … more

Corporate Welfare a Continual Failure

Time for government to focus on the basics

Time for government to focus on the basics. … more

Film Subsidy Failure Draws Attention

WDIV covers story that Michigan Capitol Confidential broke

WDIV covers story that Michigan Capitol Confidential broke. … more

Three Cheers for Michigan House Democrats

Questioning MEDC transparency is the right thing to do

Questioning MEDC transparency is the right thing to do. … more

Bridge Magazine on MEDC Audit Problems

Center has long questioned corporate welfare entity. … more

The 'Pro Big Business' Myth Put to Rest

Center a lone voice against corporate welfare for 25 years. … more

Media Looks to Center on A123 Bankruptcy

Fox News, MLive cite Skorup on failed subsidy recipient. … more

A123 Files for Bankruptcy

Yet another failure of central planning

Yet another failure of central planning. … more

MEDC's Lack of Transparency Goes National

Fox, Instapundit pick up Center expose of hidden A123 video. … more

The Perils of Politicians' Promises

A radio blast from the past with Congressman Bill Huizenga. … more

Economic Development a Campaign Tool

Subsidies help politicians look like they're "doing something." … more

Occupy to Protest Mackinac Center

Group sends mixed message with its words, actions. … more

Michigan's Job Loss Apocalypse Averted!

No thanks to the 'Department of Corporate Welfare.'

No thanks to the "Department of Corporate Welfare." … more

Corporate Welfare to Increase $20M

Governor's 2013 proposed budget released Thursday. … more

Lehman Cited in Dome Magazine

Profile of Doug Rothwell, former MEDC president. … more

Going in Circles

Subsidies for NASCAR track questioned. … more

Run From the Border(s)

One of MEGA's first "winners" ends up a loser.  … more

MEDC Accountability a Step in the Right Direction

Subsidy recipients should face consequences if claims aren't met. … more

Power Failure

Flint's bus problems persist. … more

Shedding Light on Michigan's Administrative State

Tracking interlocal agreements. … more

MEDC Admits Truth About Jobs Claims

Center analysts have long questioned agency's practice. … more

Good, Bad and Ugly of Gov. Snyder's Budget

Gov. Rick Snyder’s first budget fell short of the “atomic bomb” promised by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, in part due to the fact that a megaton of further spending and tax cuts were left on the table. Overall, the budget moves the state in a positive direction with greater tax simplicity, more transparency, less corporate welfare and fewer discriminatory tax policies.  … more

Four Cheers for Gov. Snyder

The first three weeks of Gov. Snyder’s administration has provided plenty to cheer, especially on fiscal policy issues. … more

Unity Studios: Whose Unhappy Ending?

It appears likely the starry-eyed promise of Hollywood has left the taxpayers of Allen Park with quite the handful of overpriced real estate. … more

Wishful Reporting of Governor’s Investment Missions

In Gov. Jennifer Granholm's weekly radio address, she ballyhoos her investment missions abroad by claiming that they're responsible for creating or retaining 20,000 Michigan jobs. Unfortunately, she continues to mistake job announcements for job creation. … more

Hangar42 Investor in Court Today

The lead investor in the Hangar42 movie studio deal was in court today for a preliminary exam, according to The Grand Rapids Press… more

Lack of Transparency at MEDC, MEGA

The Washington Examiner and San Jose Mercury News both recently cited Mike LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, about the need for transparency within government-run economic development programs. … more

Bad Week for Michigan Corporate Welfare Machine

On Thursday the plug was officially pulled on a monumentally hyped film endeavor in Allen Park called "Unity Studios." There were no press releases from the Governor's office or the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announcing the evaporation of the mirage. … more

GlobalWatt's the Deal?

Center Analysts Cited on Job Growth, Road Construction

Skepticism surrounds a recent report from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. that claims its "21st Century Jobs Fund" helped "save or retain" 20,000 jobs in the last five years, according to WOOD-TV8 in Grand Rapids. … more

Pay Attention to Candidates' Stance on Subsidies

When considering which candidates to vote for in November — regardless of the office — be sure to examine their stance on Michigan's growing empire of economic development programs, which selectively hand out subsidies and tax favors to politically favored industries and firms. … more

MEGA Careful?

How much background research does Michigan's corporate welfare bureaucracy actually perform on the potential recipients of its selective tax breaks and subsidies? Due to recent embarrassments the amount may be increasing, but until now the answer appears to be, "Not much at all." … more

Hangar42 in Court

The lead investor in a Grand Rapids-area film studio was in court Tuesday after being charged by the Michigan Attorney General's office with a felony relating to the deal.
As WZZM TV13 in Grand Rapids reports, the Mackinac Center "was the first to question the deal." … more

No Conversation Allowed

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. … more

Let He Who Is Without Jobs Sin Cast the First Stone

An article in Saturday's Grand Rapids Press contains one of the most troubling quotes from an economic development official we have ever read. … more

Michigan Taxpayers Writing Check to Second Electric Car Battery Maker for $100 Million

The owners of another Michigan electric car battery plant, A123 Systems, will receive a $100 million cash subsidy from the state for a 75-acre facility the company has leased in Romulus. … more

Michigan Taxpayers to Write $100 Million Check to Korean Battery Maker

Last week the the Michigan Economic Development Corp. upped the ante on a $100 million "refundable" business tax credit approved by the Michigan House and Senate for a subsidiary of the South Korean battery maker LG Chem. The MEDC in effect converted the credit into an outright cash subsidy from Michigan taxpayers by granting the plant's 120-acre site in Holland "renaissance zone" status for 15 years. … more

'Administration of a Tax': The Big Lie Behind Government Secrecy on State Corporate Welfare Checks

Ms. Granholm, tear down this wall of government secrecy! … more

New Questions Arise Over Hangar42 Funding

Questions continue to arise over the Hangar42 movie studio deal, including this breaking news from reporter Chris Knape at The Grand Rapids Press that outlines the involvement of a state representative's office in obtaining a tax subsidy for the project. … more

Film Office Director Agrees With Center on Hangar42 Movie Studio Deal

The Grand Rapids Press and WOOD-TV are reporting that Michigan Film Office Director Janet Lockwood agreed with Mackinac Center analysts that a proposed movie studio seeking state subsidies is questionable. … more

Blowing the Lid off Film Subsidy Duplicity

The Grand Rapids Press has captured the essence of what concerns people about a potential $10 million taxpayer subsidy for the investors in the "Hangar42" film studio project that Gov. Jennifer Granholm has boasted of. The 25 percent "capital investment" subsidy is based on a $40 million purchase price for the property claimed by the deal's promoter. The same building, however, was listed for sale at just $9.8 million as late as February. … more

MEDC Letter an Admission of Failure

On May 25, the executive committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. publicly cried foul over "unwarranted criticism" of the agency and warned that "political in-fighting" could hurt the state's business investment climate. But the criticism of the state's chief "jobs" department is not only warranted, it's overdue.  … more

Government Secrecy Rules on $10 Million Film Studio Subsidy

Hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being handed over by the state to these film studios, and when legitimate questions and concerns are raised the response from those in charge is, "Trust us. We know what's best for you." Voters and taxpayers shouldn't accept that, and neither should state legislators. … more

Tax Hikes Will Force More Michigan Residents Out

Gov. Granholm's call to raise taxes yet again in order to fix the latest budget overspending crisis she and the Legislature have created will send more Michigan residents packing, according to this Op-Ed in The Oakland Press by Morey Fiscal Policy Director Michael LaFaive. … more

More Information Trickles Out Regarding Hangar42

Grand Rapids Press reporter Chris Knape continues to dig into the questions raised by the Mackinac Center about a potential $10 million subsidy for a film studio infrastructure project called Hangar42. … more

Statewide Media Respond to MEDC Complaints Over Criticism of its Failures

Detroit News, Free Press cover Google story that Capitol Confidential broke last week

A columnist for Michigan Business Review says the Michigan Economic Development Corp.'s complaints about critics who point out the agency's failures is a "highly unusual move." … more

Media Covers Grand Rapids Movie Studio Deal After Mackinac Center Analysts Release Results of Months-Long Investigation

MEDC mum on Hangar42 deal

Grand Rapids-area media have picked up on the story of unanswered questions involving the Michigan Film Office, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and a movie studio that Mackinac Center analysts uncovered. … more

Stop Pointing Out Our Failures, Says MEDC

After awarding $9 million in tax credits to a convicted felon and a report that showed it only helped create 18,000 jobs in 11 years, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. today issued a press release saying it is "deeply concerned" over "unwarranted criticism," according to annarbor.com… more

Funding Questions Surround Hangar42 Studios Deal, According to Center Analyst

State officials mum on details surrounding possible $45 million project touted by Gov. Granholm in State of the State address

MIDLAND — Recent data compiled by the National Education Association shows that average salaries for Michigan public school teachers from 2003 to 2009 outpaced those of teachers in all other states when factoring in states' per capita personal income levels, according to analysis by Mackinac Center Education Policy Director Michael Van Beek. … more

Film Noir

Film Industry in Michigan Hits Another Snag

The News cites research by James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst, which shows Michigan film jobs have decreased despite the state handing out millions of dollars in subsidies to movie makers. … more

Michigan Unemployment Woes Continue Despite Millions Spent on 'Economic Growth'

MEGA continues to be ineffective. … more

Lawmaker Says $150 Million in Unearned Tax Credits Given Out by State

A state house committee is looking into an Auditor General's report that the state's flagship economic development program may have given out an estimated $150 million in tax credits erroneously.
The State House Tax Policy Committee will hold a hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday on the audit of the Michigan Economic Growth Authority program.
The MEGA gives out tax credits to approved businesses for jobs they create. … more

Special Deals Yield Far Fewer Jobs Than Projected

About nine months before an Auditor General's report questioned the accuracy of job projections in tax incentives handed to companies by the state, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy did its own study highlighting the problem.
The Mackinac Center study states that for every 1,000 jobs companies projected they would create, about 294 jobs were actually created, on average — about 29 percent.
That report was vindicated by the Auditor General report that was released April 23. The report looked at company projections from 2005 through 2007 and concluded that about 28 percent of projected jobs came to fruition. … more
MEDC

Lawmaker Says 'Willful Neglect' Is the Rule at Embattled State Agency

The state's "flagship" economic development program may have doled out an estimated $150 million in tax credits erroneously in the last five years to companies that didn't meet the criteria due to a lack of oversight, according to State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills.
McMillin met with the state Auditor General's office Tuesday after it released a report this week that said the state didn't follow up on company job projections that often fell short of required triggers to receive tax credits but still received the money.
The report comes a little more than a month after it was learned that the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) board approved a $9.1 million tax credit to Richard Short, a convicted embezzler who was CEO of a company named Renewable and Sustainable Companies LLC (RASCO). … more

MEGA Jobs MIA in Flint

Jobs that were promised in exchange for state subsidies in three high-profile cases in Flint never came to fruition, according to The Flint Journal… more

Flight Plan

Attracting residential and commercial expansion to the Detroit Region Aerotropolis — some 60,000 mostly vacant acres between the Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports — should occur using private money, according to one Mackinac Center analyst. … more

Watchdog

A state legislator recently praised the Mackinac Center for its efforts to "hold the MEDC accountable." … more

Economic Development 'Chicanery'

The recent news that the state's Michigan Economic Growth Authority offered a convicted embezzler's company a $9.1 million tax credit has caused quite a stir in Lansing. Last week, legislators held hearings on how the Michigan Economic Development Corp., MEGA's parent agency, could have let someone with the embezzler's background be part of a multi-million-dollar selective tax break deal.
There is so much money sloshing around economic development programs around the nation — up to $50 billion or so as late as 2004 — that it would be surprising if there were not many questionable deals brokered by similar agencies across the nation. … more

MEGA Cliché 'Mistakes Were Made' Not Good Enough

In her first public statements since it was revealed that the Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved a $9.1 million tax credit deal for a convicted embezzler, Gov. Jennifer Granholm was quoted by the Gongwer Michigan Report as saying, "And obviously, a mistake was made, and it cannot happen again." … more

MEGA Show Trial?

The Michigan House and Senate plan to hold hearings this week on how a convicted embezzler on parole duped the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Michigan Economic Growth Authority into offering his company — which was being run out of a Flint mobile home park — a $9.1 million tax credit. (This could have become a "refundable" credit, meaning the state would likely be writing checks to the embezzler.) … more

Funds Disclosure

Lansing's sound and fury over the state granting a targeted tax credit to a convicted embezzler's company will signify nothing unless decision-makers recognize that the root problem is a lack of transparency from Michigan's economic development agencies. … more

What Transparency Should Look Like at the MEDC (but Doesn't)

The award of a $9.1 million tax credit to a convicted embezzler has raised serious concerns about the lack of transparency at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The concerns could be alleviated by two transparency/due diligence reforms that would protect the state (and taxpayers) from fraud. However, the real issue is not whether the occasional criminal wins an "incentive" deal, but the lack of transparency that characterizes this entire operation. This is the measure by which the responses of politicians and economic development bureaucrats to this embarrassment should assessed. … more

MEGA Jobs Announcements Symbolic Drop in the Bucket

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority yesterday approved its latest batch of tax credits to lure large business projects to Michigan.
Despite the press release, these big business projects are just not that consequential to Michigan's total economy.  … more

Quick! Change the Subject

Hoffa tries to manipulate the Tea Partiers

Teamsters President James Hoffa would love to manipulate Tea Partiers for his own purposes. … more

Editorial Praises Center Study

An editorial in today's Midland Daily News says a study about the failures of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. should be "required reading" for legislators. … more

Gov. Granholm Gambling on Michigan's Economic Future With Energy Subsidies

Excuse me for not feeling all warm and tingly after Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced the latest state subsidies for wind and solar manufacturing. … more
Charlie Owens

Small Businesses vs. Big Governments

Michigan's Economic Development Failures

Dome Magazine's cover story, "Desperate for Diversification: A brief history of Michigan's economic development strategies," correctly points out that Mackinac Center scholars have disagreed with the state's central planning attempts under both Republican and Democratic governors. … more

Citizens, Investors and Legislative Circus Poodles

We all pay a price when government treats investors, entrepreneurs and households as circus poodles made to jump through hoops in order to collect selective tax-break or subsidy "biscuits" handed out at the whim and discretion of bureaucrats and legislators. … more

Main Forecast: Hoping for a 'Broken Clock' Moment

In short, MEDC talk is cheap. Its officials can make wild claims about their ability to see the future or "create" jobs from thin air, but none are ever demoted or fired when they eventually prove to be divorced from reality. … more

Passing the Torch

Here's the latest evidence that so-called "economic development" programs are actually nothing more than political development programs. … more

Political Careerism the Root of Growing "Economic Development" Empire

History, economic theory and empirical research all demonstrate that discriminatory tax breaks and government subsidies don’t work to grow the economy or expand job opportunities. So why has Michigan’s political class greatly expanded the number and generosity of such programs? The special favors may do nothing to expand jobs for the people, but the growing empire of entities with the power to grant them creates hundreds of potential job opportunities for the political careerists who populate Michigan’s term-limited legislature. … more

MEDC Subsidies Questioned

Another Michigan Economic Development Corp. tax subsidy has come under fire. … more

Relationship Problems

Government employee unions should not be eligible for special tax breaks. Here's why.

The already problematic relationship between the State of Michigan and the Service Employees International Union is becoming more and more troubling as SEIU Local 517M reached terms for changes to their contract with the state of Michigan. As we have reported on this blog, another SEIU subsidiary, the Member Action Services Center, received $2 million in refundable MEGA tax credits last month. … more

SEIU/MASC: Curiouser and Curiouser

MEDC moved fast to secure a union operation for Michigan, but did they really need to?

MEDC moved fast to secure a union operation for Michigan, but did it really need to? … more

What's Hiding Under the MASC?

It's Not Easy Getting Answers out of the MEDC

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority has granted a $2 million tax credit to the Service Employees International Union that appears to be "refundable," meaning that it's actually a cash subsidy if this union operation has no tax liability. In that case, Michigan taxpayers would be paying for an SEIU office that could also be used for union organizing or political activism. The MEDC's response to persistent Mackinac Center attempts to confirm this has been, well, unresponsive. … more

What The...?

MEDC grant to SEIU raises all kinds of questions

The value of MEDC itself is dubious and this grant to SEIU is especially so. … more

Film Subsidy Is Political, not Economic

An unusual joint hearing occurring right now of two state House committees on Michigan's film subsidy program brought to mind a letter received last summer from Janet Lockwood, director of the Michigan Film Office. The letter was in response to a Mackinac Center press release describing how the subsidy program may actually destroy jobs. … more

MEDC Untruths Reveal Political Nature of 'Jobs' Department

The Mackinac Center's recent analysis of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. elicited some misleading or erroneous responses from MEDC officials. Although the MEDC is supposed to be about economic development, its true mission is political, and so its pronouncements should be viewed with the same skepticism as ones from politicians. … more

MEGA Stories

Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Greg Main boasted that he "would invite (critics) to take a look at the results (of the MEGA targeted tax break program)." We did. Twice. In depth and detail. We found that - at best - MEGA creates no new jobs, and on balance it may even destroy them on a net basis. Further, only 29 percent of the direct jobs promised by its deals ever happened. To date, the MEDC has not refuted a single point of fact, or produced independent, systematic evidence that its approach does squat to create jobs, increase state incomes or expand our economy. … more

"Slashing" Economic Development Staff? Please Sir, Can We Have Some More?

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation — the lead agency in a statewide "economic development" empire — is arguably the most ineffective, least necessary department in state government. Shrinkage of the agency's staff is good news; staff levels reaching zero would be excellent news! Alas, declines reported by a recent Detroit News article aren't quite what they appear to be. … more

“Dis-Unity” Studios?

A news report from Detroit TV station WDIV seems to indicate that a $146 million film production studio has instead become a boondoggle for the city of Allen Park. … more
The State of Joblessness

Is it The Wall Street Journal or The Onion?

This week, The Wall Street Journal published another critical examination of Michigan's political leadership, economy and budget. In a delicious irony, the online version posted a Michigan Economic Development Corp. advertisement featuring actor Jeff Daniels alongside the piece. … more

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