Friday, April 23, 1999
Governor John Engler today announced his plan for accelerating the growth of technology-based jobs in Michigan in a new report, entitled, "State Smart: Michigan." The plan, unveiled today at the last session of a year long Governor's Innovation Forum, outlines a series of new initiatives to attract and develop more firms in the fields of advanced manufacturing, life sciences and information technology. "Our overriding goal is more good paying jobs with a long-term future," Engler said. "Since technology will increasingly be the determining factor in distinguishing jobs that pay well, we must create a positive environment for technology growth in Michigan. That's why this plan is so critical to Michigan's continued economic success." The centerpiece of the plan is a new "Gold Collar Jobs Tax Package," a series of tax reforms designed to level the playing field between technology-based firms and traditional industries by providing the same benefits to each under the tax code. The tax package would allow high tech firms to benefit from the same sales tax exemptions and tax abatements as manufacturing firms; would amend the Michigan Economic Growth Authority Act to allow support for smaller, fast growing technology companies, and would promptly update state depreciation tables to reflect the rapid depreciation of computers and other high tech equipment. "If high tech firms are truly welcome in Michigan, this needs to be reflected in our tax and regulatory structure," Engler said. The report released from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and described by Engler also outlines a strategy to build on Smart Ideas, Smart People and Smart Capital, which were described as the three most critical site location factors for advanced technology businesses. "Throughout this year long effort, ideas have emerged from university leaders, business leaders and government leaders. This report encapsulates their recommendations and helps us put the welcome mat out for these high tech firms. This Forum has shown that Michigan has to be the state with the smartest ideas, the smartest people and the smartest money to back up the first two," Engler said. As outlined in the report, Smart Ideas involves a series of initiatives that will link successful university and private research institutions to commercialization opportunities in Michigan; Smart People focuses on expanding technical training and aggressively marketing Gold Collar job opportunities to Michigan's college graduates, and Smart Capital includes the tax proposal plus other ways to fund more technology growth in Michigan. The final speaker for the day, Rick Snyder, president of Avalon Instruments, Inc., and Michigan Economic Development Corporation chairman gave the Forum members their challenge for the future. "We've taken our first steps today by presenting the Forum's recommendations to the Governor," said Snyder. "This starts us on an aggressive path to achieve real results."