Prioritizing highway investments based on their impact on the economy and attracting businesses to fuel Michigan’s supply chains are among the recommendations backed by Michigan business leaders to help the state recover from the challenges. disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statewide CEO roundtable on Monday shared details of its economic stimulus policy plan to support employers and their workers. The suggestions are meant to be inexpensive to implement, CEO Doug Rothwell said, and build on actions taken in other states and regions in previous crises.
“We decided to develop a playbook because there wasn’t one on the table,” Rothwell said. “We believe the state needs a roadmap for the next 12-18 months.”
This includes how to allocate resources to improve real Michigan highways, a priority for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. Although Whitmer has shared plans for a $ 3.5 billion bond plan to fund road repairs, with residents subject to stay-at-home orders, fewer people are taking to the streets to commute to work and elsewhere. In order to make the best use of tax revenues for transportation, Business Leaders for Michigan recommends an economic impact analysis for projects.
“We did the research and found that economic impact is actually not a yardstick for determining which projects are funded,” Rothwell said. “What we felt was during a time of crisis when you have limited dollars and maybe you can’t make all the connections, for example, that the governor thought of a few weeks ago, you have to make sure what you’re spending is going to help as many people as possible. “
Additionally, COVID-19 has helped more than 1.2 million people file for unemployment in the state since March 15. The roundtable plan emphasizes continued support for the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s work-sharing program, connecting employees in places like bars and restaurants that remain closed with opportunities in grocery stores and restaurants. logistics companies where they can get back to work quickly, and ensuring that state graduate workers can renew their licenses as quickly as possible to avoid making the problem worse.
Some efforts to attract new business may be put on hold as Michigan needs to focus on retaining the businesses it owns, Rothwell said. This includes finding ways to bring here companies supplying existing businesses in the state, such as suppliers of material for personal protective equipment or ingredients for pharmaceuticals. Perhaps the state’s Good Jobs for Michigan incentive program could support these efforts.
“These supply chains tend to be quite broad,” he said. “Much of it is now produced abroad. Is there an opportunity for some of our Michigan manufacturers or head office based companies to be able to look at opportunities to relocate further and what can the state do to encourage that? “
The plan also recommends using federal block grants for community development to support small and medium-sized businesses during their current struggles instead of infrastructure projects where those dollars usually go.
The recommendations do not address the expected $ 3.2 billion shortfall in the state budget, but organizations expect to produce the suggestions in a week or two, Rothwell said. The plan recommends that the state review its tax structure and how some companies permanently choosing to have their employees work from home or increase home delivery could impact its revenues.