Senate approves Zorn’s border community economic development bill

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to help attract new business investment to the state’s border communities.

“This initiative is about helping towns and counties along Michigan’s borders attract new investment and development in their communities, which will create jobs and increase support for our local governments and schools,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Michigan’s border communities are interconnected with our Ohio neighbors, with many people living in Michigan and working in Ohio and vice versa. That interconnection is unique to our border communities, but it also puts them at a disadvantage.

“This legislation will give communities along our border an equal opportunity to compete for jobs with the rest of the state.”

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.

Senate Bill 40 would expand the “qualified new job” definition to include a job performed by a resident or non-resident who is employed by a business located in a Michigan border county.

“Our goal is simple and clear: To 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 in Ohio or Indiana,” Zorn said. “This is a business hindrance that all border counties struggle with, and I am proud to be working on this issue with Senator John Proos, who represents three counties along the Indiana border in Southwest Michigan.”

Lenawee Now Executive Director Jim Van Doren testified last week in support of the bill.

“Economic development is a regional issue and competition along the southern border is a great example,” Van Doren said. “Senator Zorn, working so closely with his counterpart Senator Proos from the west side of the state, is a major asset, and this bill will help us attract and expand industry right here in Lenawee County.”

Tim Lake, president and CEO of the Monroe County Business Development Corporation, said, “Monroe County is excited to learn that Michigan boarder counties will have the playing field leveled as we as we compete with our neighboring states to attract new business and retain our existing businesses. We certainly appreciate the heavy lifting that Senators Zorn and Proos have done in bringing Senate Bill 40 forward. Senate Bill 40 is a solution to a long time problem will certainly help in growing Michigan.”

Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens said, “I want to thank Senators Zorn and Proos for helping solve a vitally important issue, central to the focus of local economic developers working to attract companies to Southwest Michigan. Senate Bill 40 will give us an important tool to compete with neighboring states in winning projects that bring jobs to our region.”

SB 40 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.