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Issue No. 5
July 2017
The Business Advocate
 
Dear Members,

The 2nd Quarter of 2017 has been a busy one for The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce and we have several updates on the legislative and community initiative front to share.

The 2018 budget for the State of Michigan was signed into law on July 14th which includes the funding for important projects in our region including Delta College, SVSU, and the Caro Center. Read more about these projects below.

Sincerely,
 
Bob Van Deventer
President/CEO, Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce
Delta College Downtown Saginaw Annex
 
This much anticipated $14 million project will not only contribute to the revitalization of Downtown Saginaw, but will also serve to connect the community college more closely with Saginaw Public Schools. The Downtown Annex will be located at a major transportation hub (public transit and direct access from I-75/I-675) attracting students from the region and beyond.

Delta College expects to break ground in early 2018 with completion in spring of 2019. It is anticipated that the Downtown Saginaw Delta Campus will attract over 1,200 students and be a catalyst for continued redevelopment in Downtown Saginaw.
 
Transformational Brownfield Legislation
 
The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce was a strong supporter of Senate Bills 111-115 which create a brownfield program enabling large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment of some of Michigan's most challenging and expensive properties and buildings. The bills apply only to transformational-projects that developers have avoided because of the high costs of initial cleanup.

Participation in the program allows developers to capture state income tax from new residents and employers who occupy the project as well as a portion of the sales tax from construction costs. However, the program only applies to brownfield projects of a certain level of investment and requires significant analysis and proof that excessive costs create a gap that prevents developers from taking on the project in the first place. The idea is to help close financing gaps that are the difference between a multi-use, transformational project and a vacant, obsolete property or building.

Investment is the key to economic growth and a sustainable economy. Each community in this state has a property or building that has been sitting dilapidated and unused for years. This legislation levels the playing field and can be used to transform a community.

The bills were signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder in Saginaw's Bearinger Building with key bill sponsors Senator Ken Horn, Senator Jim Stamas, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Representatives Ben Frederick and Vanessa Guerra in attendance.

The Chamber acknowledges and appreciates Senator Ken Horn's leadership on this bill package.



Saginaw River Deep Water Feasibility Study
 
The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce continues to lead a team including the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACOE), Saginaw Future Inc., County of Saginaw, County of Bay, Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and the private sector, involved in a feasibility study to look at deepening the Saginaw River shipping channel.

While Saginaw County is the official partner with the USACOE, the Saginaw County Chamber has been the driver in identifying the matching funds required by the federal government (50% match from another source.) With the help of Senators Ken Horn and (retired) Senator Roger Kahn, the team has successfully raised over $225,000 towards the local match requirement. The Chamber is keeping federal legislators apprised of funding progress and will enlist their support for this project.

One requirement for boosting the successful outcome of the study is to demonstrate the potential return on investment for a project of this size. In other words, how much economic development or increased shipping can be anticipated if the Saginaw River is deepened? The Chamber has been working to identify companies that might consider transporting their goods utilizing shipping as an option over rail or truck. Those companies are then connected with USACOE to help demonstrate the potential cost benefit of deepening the Saginaw River.  Agribusiness and manufacturing are two Important area economic sectors that seem promising for utilizing shipping options.

The first Public Draft of the study is expected to be released in December, 2017.
 

SVSU College of Business and Management Addition
 
Saginaw Valley State University is proposing to build a 40,000 square foot addition to the existing College of Business & Management. The projected cost is $17.5 million with SVSU assuming 44% of the costs ($7.7 million). The project costs will not affect tuition.

As part of the rationale, SVSU covers a service area that includes many of the leading employers in the Great Lakes Bay Region including The Dow Chemical Company, Covenant HealthCare, St. Mary's Ascension, General Motors, Nexteer, Morley Companies, and Frankenmuth Insurance. The enhanced business school will cater to these and many other community employers.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce worked with SVSU to support this much-needed expansion which will add to the existing academic experience available at SVSUs Dow Entrepreneurship Institute, The Stevens Center for Family Business and the Business Resource and Development Center.

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Rebuilding the Caro Center

The Caro Center is a 200 bed psychiatric hospital that serves people with mental illness and developmental disabilities in 44 Counties across Michigan. The majority of patients come from Southeast Michigan.  Of the 149 patients, 123 are from families that come from Tuscola County or South and East of the Caro Center.

The Caro Center has nearly 350 employees of varying degrees and skill sets. Pay ranges run from $15.88 to $87.62 per hour. The property includes 650 acres of land, a water tower, power house, on-site generator, and a Lift Station. It is self-contained and set up for its current population.

This year, the Governor recom-mended $115 million to replace the over 100-year-old buildings. However, there was a move to use that money to build a new facility somewhere outside of the current Caro location. 
 
The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce became involved in this issue for the following reasons:
  • The residents at the Caro Center receive advanced medical treatment and tests at Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw
  • The residents at the Caro Center are transported by Mobile Medical Response (MMR)
  • There are a large number of employees of the Caro Center that live in Saginaw, Bay and Midland Counties
Because of this direct economic impact on Caro, Saginaw County and the region, the Saginaw Chamber enlisted the help of the regional legislative delegation to fight to keep the facility in Caro. Additionally, the Chamber enlisted the support of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and urged the Governor to use the $115 million appropriation to rebuild in Caro.

The Saginaw Chamber received word in late May that the administration decided to build a new facility on the Caro Center site. 

The Chamber would like to acknowledge and thank State Representative Ned Canfield, DO, Senators Mike Green, Ken Horn and Jim Stamas for their support.
 

Good Jobs for Michigan Bill Package
 
This package of bills incentivizes large employers for new and existing businesses that bring in a minimum of at least 250 jobs that pay 125% of the prosperity region's average wage or 500 jobs that pay at least the prosperity region's average wage. In the Great Lakes Bay Region (Prosperity Region 5), the average wage is $40,000.

Michigan currently has no incentives for new or major expansions by large companies. In fact, Michigan is only one of two states (Alaska being the other) that do not have these tools for economic developers.

While Michigan is competitive when comparing tax policy, regulatory policy and talent, this lack of incentive puts Michigan at a distinct disadvantage with neighboring states, which have large cash incentives to lure new business.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce is part of a coalition that supported the incentive package. The Michigan House of Representatives took the legislation up on July 12th and easily passed the Good Jobs for Michigan bill package. At the time of writing this publication, the bills were awaiting a signature by Governor Rick Snyder who was in support of this common sense, transparent bill package.

Questions?

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of all things legislative, policy and political. Please  feel free to contact Bob Van Deventer, President & CEO at 989-752-7161 or email him at Bob@SaginawChamber.org .