Nearly every seat was taken during this morning's League Capital Conference breakout session, "Economic Development Tools for the 21st Century," as local government leaders expressed passionate support for state tax credits for economic development. Community officials characterized brownfield and historic preservation credits as "make or break" for saving downtowns. Representative Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), Chair of the House Commerce Committee, spoke with the group about his strong support for those state incentives. He expressed concern that the Governor's proposal to replace credits with grant would not provide sufficient support for redevelopment and revitalization projects in our commerce centers, but he did express an expectation that the Legislature will make some significant changes to the programs.

Michael McGee of Miller Canfield also provided an update on the possibilities created last year by the Legislature through the Next Michigan Development Act, Public Acts 273-277. It allows certain large cities and Public Act 7 intergovernmental entities to form a Next Michigan Development Corporation. Those Corporations, which must meet a number of conditions, will have access to crucial economic development incentives like Renaissance Zones, Public 198 tax abatements and tax-increment financing to encourage job development in businesses oriented towards shipping, supply chain logistics, multi-modal transportation and light manufacturing. Wayne and Washtenaw Counties and seven local governments already have taken advantage of this act to form the Detroit Region Aerotropolis.

Luke Forrest is Project Coordinator for the Center for 21st Century Communities. Contact him at 734-669-6323 or lforrest@mml.org.

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