Friday, June 25, 1999
In just 18 months, Michigan's Renaissance Zones have attracted 103 projects and over 5,000 jobs to some of the state's most economically distressed areas, Governor John Engler announced today. "Areas of the state that had at one time struggled to attract jobs have found an excellent economic development tool in Renaissance Zones," Engler said. "From Grand Rapids to Detroit to the Western U.P., we've transformed these areas where nobody wanted to invest into some of our state's most valuable resources." The Renaissance Zone program, which is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, was created in Michigan in 1997. The zones were designed to spur investment in areas of the state that were struggling to attract business. By eliminating virtually all state and local taxes for all businesses and residents located in the zones, Renaissance Zones create a powerful monetary incentive for investment. All 11 of the state's Renaissance Zones have received commitments for at least one new investment. Grand Rapids leads all zones with 50 projects announced to date. Altogether, the 103 projects are expected to create 5,169 jobs. Investment in the projects totals almost $260 million. The zones are located in six urban areas (Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Saginaw), three rural areas (Gratiot/Montcalm counties, Gogebic/Ontonagon/Houghton counties, and Manistee County) and two former military installations (Oscoda, home of the former Wurtsmith AFB, and Warren, home of the former Warren Tank Plant). Due to the success of the program, legislators have passed major portions of a new bill proposing a second round of Renaissance Zones. The bill would allow for communities to once again compete through a competitive process for Renaissance Zone designation. This legislation would allow the state to designate a total of nine new zones, including up to six urban zones and four rural community zones. The legislation would also allow the state to designate up to five Renaissance Development Zones anywhere in the state, with the stipulation that the designation could only be made with the concurrence of the city, township or village in which the project is proposed. "This program is the crown jewel in Michigan's award-winning economic development efforts," said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. "Because of its success, both Pennsylvania and North Dakota have already implemented similar programs. By designating more zones in Michigan, even more areas could experience much-needed revitalization."