Jobs for Michigan Investment Program: 21st Century Jobs Fund

This program is technically administered by the Michigan Strategic Fund, rather than the MEDC.[34] It is a major economic development program, however, so we will briefly describe it here.

The 21st Century Jobs Fund was created in 2005 with an original appropriation of $400 million.[35] The program has received initial appropriations of $62 million for fiscal 2009.[36] This line item is financed by the sale (or "securitization") of tobacco revenues that accrue to Michigan from the Master Settlement Agreement between the major tobacco companies and the various U.S. states.

After monies are appropriated each year, the Strategic Fund may allocate them into three different 21st Century Jobs Fund programs: the loan enhancement program, the investment programs, and the Competitive Edge Technology Grants and Loans program.[37] Various earmarks guide the disbursement of 21st Century Jobs Fund money, including a mandate to fund CETGAL.[38]

Technically, the loan enhancement program has five parts: a loan guarantee program; a small-business capital access program; two programs for loans to firms and private equity funds involved in film and digital media; and a program to loan money directly to businesses for "significant job creation or retention within this state."[39]

According to the MEDC, only two parts of the loan enhancement program had started as of Sept. 30, 2008: the direct loan program, which had not yet issued any loans; and the small-business capital access program, which had received no appropriation besides the initial one from the 21st Century Jobs Fund.[40]

The Strategic Fund may also use the appropriation for its investment programs, but the state in general does not invest directly.[*] Instead, it hires an outside manager, Credit Suisse,[41] to analyze and partner with professional firms that specialize in providing venture capital, private equity and mezzanine loans. This investment program received an appropriation from the initial 21st Century Jobs Fund monies, but has not received continuing funds from the annual line item.

Under the Competitive Edge Technology Grants and Loans program, the state may also subsidize four targeted industries - life sciences, homeland security, advanced automotive and alternative energy. CETGAL is the successor program to the "Technology TriCorridor Initiative." According to the Michigan Strategic Fund's Sept. 30, 2008, financial statements, there are more than $60 million worth of loans outstanding from CETGAL and its predecessors. While CETGAL loans (as opposed to grants) may be repaid over time, the MSF's financial report also clarifies, "These are high-risk loans issued for the purpose of diversifying Michigan's economy."[42] The state made a $3.2 million provision for loan losses last year.[43]

In 2008, the Legislature gave the Strategic Fund the ability to finance the Centers of Energy Excellence program,[44] which is similar to CETGAL but focuses exclusively on energy industries. Also, CoEE allows the state to make direct grants to for-profit firms,[45] which the state was prevented from doing under CETGAL (except when the business was seeking a match for federal funds).[46]

Numerous legislative earmarks have channeled 21st Century Jobs Fund monies to specific activities. In the 21st Century Jobs Fund's initial appropriations, approximately $26 million was set aside for the Michigan Forest Finance Authority, although $20 million of this was subsequently vetoed.[47] In the appropriations bills for the current fiscal year, there was a $1.4 million earmark for small-business grants and loans and a vetoed $3 million earmark for a West Michigan regional economic development agency.[48] This year's proposed budget includes new funding for a defense industry liaison office.49

Funding for the 21st Century Jobs Fund may be diverted to the state's general fund. Indeed, $50 million of the original $400 million 21st Century Jobs Fund appropriation was placed in the general fund to help balance the budget.[50]

[*] Under this program, the state has, however, invested directly in Microposite, which "develops and manufactures advanced composite materials," according to the company's MEGA "Briefing Memo."

[34] "Financial Audit Including the Provisions of the Single Audit Act of the Michigan Strategic Fund,"  (Michigan Office of the Auditor General, 2008), 46.

[35] "Public Act 225 of 2005," (Michigan Legislature, 2005), 14, (accessed July 21, 2009).

[36] Wild and Fox, "Line Item and Boilerplate Summary: General Government."

[37] "Michigan Strategic Fund Act," Sec. 2088b(3).

[38] Elizabeth Pratt and Maria Tyszkiewicz, "21st Century Jobs Trust Fund Programs," (Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, 2008).

[39] "Michigan Strategic Fund Act," Sec. 2088d.

[40] "21st Century Jobs Fund Program: Year-End Report to the Legislature for Fiscal Year 2008," (Michigan Economic Development Corp., 2008).

[41] "Governor and MEDC Announce 21st Century Jobs Trust Fund Investment Manager," (Michigan Economic Development Corp., 2006), ContentId=42E44AC3-C9DD-4C92-8C5F-79346526E118&QueueId=2&ContentTypeId=7 (accessed August 30, 2009).

[42] "Financial Audit Including the Provisions of the Single Audit Act of the Michigan Strategic Fund."

[43] Therese Regner, Freedom of Information Act e-mail correspondence with James Hohman, August 25, 2009.

[44] "Public Act 175 of 2008," (Michigan Legislature, 2008), (accessed August 30, 2009).

[45] Ibid.

[46] "Michigan Strategic Fund Act," Sec. 2088k(3).

[47] Pratt and Tyszkiewicz, "21st Century Jobs Trust Fund Programs," 1.

[48] "Public Act 261 of 2008," Sec. 1024 and 1027.

[49] "Detailed Decision Document: Governor, Senate, House, and Conference — Michigan Strategic Fund," (Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, 2009).

[50] Pratt and Tyszkiewicz, "21st Century Jobs Trust Fund Programs."