Dubious Claims and Reluctant Disclosure

The MEDC has not just filed inaccurate reports; it has also made questionable claims. For instance, in a November 2004 Op-Ed in Business Direct Weekly, then-MEDC Chief Executive Officer Donald Jakeway asserted that the MEGA program had created more than 28,800 jobs.

The number was implausible given the MEDC's other published data, but obtaining an explanation for the discrepancy launched this study's authors on a months-long odyssey of requests for information.[130] Ultimately, a legislative subcommittee of the Michigan House felt moved to ask Jakeway to respond.

He eventually complied, and LaFaive was able to determine that the MEDC had produced Jakeway's 28,800 job figure by using an estimated REMI job multiplier out of context. For a detailed explanation of the basic problems with the jobs figure and of LaFaive's extended endeavors to procure information from the MEDC, see Pages 23-25 and Appendix B of the Mackinac Center Policy Study "MEGA: A Retrospective Assessment."[131]

This exchange is disquieting. It began with MEGA's unsubstantiated assertion, continued with MEGA's extreme reluctance to disclose data and ended with the discovery of MEGA's crude misapplication of an economic multiplier. The authority's behavior does not suggest an organization intent on sober analysis and assessment. The fact that the numbers were overstated and that the corporation resisted attempts to discover this reinforces the impression created by MEGA's premature jobs announcements: The MEDC's operations appear to be significantly influenced by public relations and political concerns. Genuine economic development seems, at best, a secondary matter.

[130] LaFaive and Hicks, "MEGA: A Retrospective Assessment," 98-102.

[131] Ibid., 23-25.