House panel OKs Zorn’s border community economic development bill

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The House Commerce and Trade Committee on Tuesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to help attract new business investment to the state’s border communities.

“Those of us who live and work along state borders know our communities are interconnected with our neighbors to the south, with many people living in Michigan and working in Ohio and vice versa,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The goal of this reform is to help Michigan’s border communities attract investment and assist expansion of current businesses in our state when some employees live across the border.”

Michigan provides grants, loans and other economic assistance to qualified businesses that make investments in Michigan or provide “qualified new jobs” in the state. Currently, a “qualified new job” means a job performed by an individual who is a Michigan resident.

As approved by the House committee, Senate Bill 40 would expand the “qualified new job” definition to include every job at a business project located in Michigan, as long as the business certified in writing at the time of disbursement that at least 50 percent of its employees are Michigan residents.

“The current law puts our communities at a disadvantage, because businesses looking to invest here cannot guarantee that they will be able to fulfill the current ‘qualified new jobs’ requirement with Michigan residents, and they cannot count the employees they might bring into the state,” Zorn said. “This legislation will give our communities an equal opportunity to compete for jobs and encourage businesses that want to create jobs — by building new facilities or expanding their operations — to do so here in Michigan instead of across the border.”

SB 40 now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.