Monday, December 27, 1999
First Eleven Zones Rack Up 128 Projects, 3,663 New JobsIn just three years, Michigan's Renaissance Zones have attracted 128 companies, 3,663 new jobs and over $330 million in new investment to some of Michigan's most economically distressed areas, Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Doug Rothwell announced today. The zones, which originated in Michigan, have been designated as virtually tax-free for any business or resident located within a zone. "When we came up with the idea for Renaissance Zones, it was with the belief that eliminating taxes could jumpstart business growth in those areas that needed a boost," Rothwell said. "We got that boost. This program has become one of the most successful initiatives in the country."Renaissance Zone designation has been granted twice: the first time in late 1996, beginning official tax-free status January 1, 1997, and the second time in December 1999. Official tax-free status for the second round winners will begin either January 1, 2000 or January 1, 2001, as chosen by each zone. Communities designated as Renaissance Zones during the first round, which turn three years old on January 1, include six urban areas, three rural areas and two former military installations. The winners of Round Two designation include four urban areas, four rural areas and one former military installation. The communities include: Round OneDetroitGrand RapidsBenton HarborFlintLansingSaginawManistee CountyGratiot/Montcalm CountiesGogebic/Ontonagon/Houghton CountiesWurtsmith Air Force Base (former)Warren Tank Plant (former) Round TwoWayne CountyCity of Jackson/Jackson CountyMuskegon/Muskegon HeightsKalamazoo County/Cities of Kalamazoo and Battle CreekVan Buren CountyLake, Osceola and Clare CountiesHuron, Sanilac and Tuscola CountiesAlpena, Grand Traverse and Presque Isle Counties/City of AlpenaK.I.Sawyer Air Force Base former)In both rounds, the areas were chosen based on several factors, including evidence of adverse economic and socioeconomic conditions within the area and local public and private commitments to make the plan work."Renaissance Zones have helped extend the economic strength to these areas that had somehow missed out on the benefits of these good times," Rothwell said. "This program shows the kind of creative thinking that has allowed Michigan's economy to flourish beyond the rest of the nation."All eleven of the first round of Renaissance Zones have received commitments for at least one new investment. Grand Rapids leads all zones with 61 projects to date. The largest project in terms of jobs so far is occurring in the Detroit Renaissance Zone, where one project is expected to create 400 jobs.