Critics question Gov. Whitmer’s $1.3 million spending on Holland private sector jobs

Critics question Gov. Whitmer’s $1.3 million spending on Holland private sector jobs

June 4, 2021 0 By Scott McClallen

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is spending taxpayer money on private business Mission Design and Automation in Holland Charter Township.

Mission will house new large-scale automation projects and space for offices and meeting rooms, but critics argue government funds shouldn’t be used to subsidize private enterprises.

Michigan awarded the private company $400,000 in taxpayer money through the Jobs Ready Michigan Program grant. The project is expected to generate a total private investment of $5.3 million and create 109 well-paying new jobs over two years.

“Mission Design’s investment in Holland will create good-paying jobs and help us continue our economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This expansion in Holland cements Mission Design’s presence in West Michigan and adds momentum to our efforts to ensure Michigan’s incredible manufacturers lead the way in Industry 4.0 technologies and workforce needs.”

Mission Design and Automation, LLC designs, builds and integrates custom intelligent automation solutions.

“Bringing work to West Michigan allows us to continue to support the community through partnerships with local universities and high schools through co-op and apprenticeship programs,” Mission Director of Business Development Ryan Lillibridge said in a statement. “It also means more high-tech employment opportunities for our community. Our customers are the reason we are successful, and this facility with its dedicated space for R&D and larger machine capacity will allow us to improve manufacturing processes for our customers and provide the collaborative spaces required to develop the solutions they need now and in the future.”

Mission’s average pay is more than $30 per hour.

“We are grateful for the partnership with the MEDC, Lakeshore Advantage, West Michigan Works!, and Holland Township who have made this possible, and for what the growth at Mission facilitates for the community, employees, and our customers,” Mission CEO Scot Lindemann said in a statement.

MEDC says it gave away $400,000 in taxpayer dollars to grow advanced manufacturing and technology in the state, along with an Industry 4.0 initiative launched in 2020 to ensure 50% of Michigan’s small and mid-sized manufacturers are prepared to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies by 2025.

“Mission Design’s continued growth in Michigan reinforces Michigan as the place where manufacturing and technology converge,” MEDC Chief Business Development Officer and Executive Vice President Josh Hundt said in a statement.

Mission is expected to pocket a 12-year property tax abatement from Holland Charter Township valued at $575,000. Lakeshore Advantage connected the company with state and local resources, and West Michigan Works! will provide $382,220 in job training.

John Mozena, president of the Center for Economic Accountability, a nonprofit organization for transparent economic development policy, told The Center Square he questioned spending more than $1.3 million on jobs that could be created via the private sector at no taxpayer cost.

“These corporate welfare deals don’t really create jobs, because they don’t change business realities,” Mozena wrote in an email. “Companies are going to expand if they expect business growth, they’re going to hire if they’ve got more work to be done and they’re going to locate in Michigan if it makes business sense to do so. Tax breaks and subsidies have very little impact on those business-critical decisions. In reality, the only jobs that get “created or retained” through these kinds of deals are the jobs of the bureaucrats who manage these programs, and of the politicians who take credit in press releases.”

Mozena contends businesspeople in a competitive industry don’t need politicians telling them when to update facilities.

“Somehow, Michigan’s industries managed over the decades to adopt advances like steam engines, assembly lines and desktop computers without MEDC subsidies or local property tax abatements. They’ll do the same with the technologies that are being called ‘Industry 4.0’ These business owners are not stupid, and they are not going to sit there and allow themselves to become obsolete without the guidance of bureaucrats and politicians in Lansing.”