Michigan businesses could receive incentives for creating jobs for residents of other states – or even Canada – under legislation that was approved Tuesday by a Senate committee.
Senate Bill 1085, sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, applies to counties such as Monroe or Berrien, which border on other states, or Wayne and St. Clair, which border on other countries.
Under the Michigan Business Development Program, businesses are eligible for grants, loans and other incentives, based on the number of jobs they create.
But currently, the workers must live in Michigan for the jobs to be counted. Zorn's bill changes that requirement for border counties, allowing the employer to count workers who work in Michigan but go home to a neighboring state or Ontario at the end of the day.
Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, who lives in Berrien County, which borders Indiana, urged the Senate Committee on Economic Development and International Investment to approve the bill.
"We compete against states that are just blocks away," said Proos. "My hope is we can qualify these jobs, regardless of where they lay their heads at night."
Proos said efforts to attract certain industries to southwest Michigan from across the Indiana border have fallen through when the companies were not able to immediately hire enough qualified Michigan workers to qualify for existing incentives.
Shane Preston, Zorn's legislative director, told the committee that "our hope would be that these individuals would eventually move across the border" to live in Michigan. But even if they don't, the state will benefit from the capital investment and taxes the businesses generate, and out-of-state employees will still spend money in Michigan, he said.
The committee approved the bill in a unanimous 7-0 vote, with Republican Sens. Ken Horn, Wayne Schmidt, Jack Brandenburg, Jim Stamas and Judy Emmons joined by Democrats Steven Bieda and and Rebekah Warren.
The bill now moves to the full Senate.