Over 800 supporters of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association (8MBA) attended the twelfth annual luncheon at Marriot Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit on Friday, May 13th. Notwithstanding the superstitious date, there was lots of positive energy and good information doled out by the association Executive Director, Tami Salisbury and Chairman, Ken Snow.
Brain Calley, Lt. Gov. for the State of Michigan, also provided additional remarks, including news on how the Legislature had just passed the business tax reform package, which included demise of the disdained Small Business Tax (SBT). Following was a spirited panel discussion moderated by Mary Kramer of Crains which also included City of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the three county executives: Mark Hackel, Macomb County Executive, Robert Ficano, Wayne County Executive and L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive.
While all of the panel members agreed that the SBT placed Michigan at a competitive disadvantage compared to her neighbors, there was also concern expressed by Mr. Hackel and Mr. Bing that tax incentives must still be robust in order to compete with other states, especially the very successful Brownfield Tax Incentives which has been integral to some of the largest Detroit real estate projects over the last several years. Mr. Patterson chimed in that the Michigan Film Incentives must continue as many people were working in the field and investment was increasing in infrastructure and job training to help support the new industry.
All panel members spoke about positive trends continuing in their counties, whether it was expansion of the defense corridor and additional population in Macomb County, expansion and upgrading of existing infrastructure (roads, airport and future rail projects) in Wayne County or increased job growth in health care, alternate energy and other emerging new markets in Oakland County. Certainly many roadblocks remain to the local economy turning around but it appears the prior animosity and negative overtones between the metro Detroit counties has changed for the better.
Finally, the panel seemed to agree that taking the wildly successful “Pure Michigan” campaign presently used for tourism and expanding it as our states’ business campaign to attract more outside investment and business could be a “game changer” strategy in terms of local job creation. There’s a reality check that Michigan can only move forward with creation of a mass of new entrepreneurs and new startup entities which will add jobs over the long term and create a much healthier economy overall. Let the entrepreneurial spirit find a warm and inviting home in our Great State!
Author: Robert E. Mattler, Green Agent Man, representing GreeningDetroit.com