Michigan voters back incentives for economic development, poll finds

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Michigan voters say the state is not competitive for economic development and needs investments to boost job growth, according to results of a statewide survey released Tuesday by three business organizations.

The survey of 600 voters conducted in November shows that only 25% of respondents thought of Michigan as a top state when it comes to expanding business. 

Lansing-based Glengariff Group Inc. conducted the survey on behalf of Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Michigan Manufacturers Association. The Glengariff Group Inc. conducted the statewide phone survey of registered voters Nov. 14-19; the survey has a margin of error of 4%.

Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan

“States around the country have been working for decades to strengthen their economic competitiveness and create tools to win jobs,” Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, said in a statement. “With the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, shifts in the auto industry to electric vehicles and changes to the way we work, Michigan will need to act quickly to improve our economic development. While the best time to invest was 10-20 years ago, the next-best time to invest in our future prosperity is today.”

Other survey findings show that about 72% of respondents support using American Rescue Plan dollars to purchase and prepare sites to attract development projects and bring new jobs to the state. 

More than 80% supported creating a one-stop location within state government for worker education and training for economic development projects.

“If Michigan is not competitive with other states in attracting and retaining good jobs, we risk losing not just job opportunities today, but well into the future — and voters clearly understand this and overwhelmingly support policies to keep our state competitive,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.  “The bipartisan consensus around the importance of economic development policy should serve as a rallying point for Michigan to take the necessary steps to ensure we are competitive with the rest of the country.”

Respondents also showed concern that the auto industry will leave for other states. More than 86 respondents said it is important that the state design and build cars of the future.

“The technological transformation to electric vehicles will happen quickly, and as the leading automotive state, Michigan must take steps to ensure the future of the automotive industry remains in Michigan,” said John Walsh, president and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “Future investment in Michigan protects both smaller and larger companies throughout the supply chain, so we encourage policymakers to act to protect Michigan’s manufacturing future economy.”


Twitter: @CWilliams_DN