Call to ACTION! Please read the Free Press article, the response from EDC member William Hickey sent to the editor and contact the Governor (517.335.7858, https://www.facebook.com/
“It’s hard to be shocked by anything that comes out of Governor Snyder’s administration regarding Detroit, but it’s the only word I can think of after reading comments made by Michael Finney, his economic growth adviser, to a recent meeting of the Detroit Economic Club. John Gallagher reported that Mr. Finney dismissed community benefits agreements (the subject of an ordinance proposed by Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones) by asserting, “We need to be capitalists. Entitlements hurt us.” Really? Have the tax credits, zoning changes, real estate fire sales, access to power, set asides, and other development tools that I’m sure Mr. Finney would say big business is “entitled” to hurt the capitalists he refers to? Not at all. It’s only when those citizen-neighbors who have been trying to hold together their communities in Detroit for decades have the nerve to think they might be entitled to a say in what kind of development comes into their neighborhoods, and to negotiate (not demand or impose) some tangible benefits from developers (jobs for the community, no damage to the environment, mitigation of negative impact on local small businesses, etc.), that “entitlement” becomes a dirty word. There is more than irony here. There is also an ugly attempt to divide our city and state along racial and economic lines with code words like “entitlements.””
Finney, Miller call for economic reforms
Both men said they opposed a proposal to require community benefits agreements in Detroit.
Two of Michigan’s top economic leaders gave a generally upbeat outlook for the state Thursday but called for reforms dealing with road repairs, education, and immigration.
Michael Finney, senior adviser on economic growth for Gov. Rick Snyder, and Rodrick Miller, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., kicked off the 2015 season of the Detroit Economic Club with remarks before a crowd of several hundred at MotorCity Casino.
Prior to their remarks, Margaret Baker of Baker Strategy Group delivered the findings of her latest survey of business leaders in the state, which showed that 71% planned to hire new staffers this year, a generally upbeat level. But those same business leaders showed strong concerns over the condition of roads and bridges, talent development, and schools.
Finney said the tax and budget reforms of Snyder’s first administration took advantage of the economic expansion that followed the Great Recession to produce Michigan’s improving economy. “It’s important to be ready when the opportunity is there,” he said.
And Miller, who joined DEGC a few months ago from a similar role in New Orleans, said it’s important that Detroit ensure that the current redevelopment surge in the greater downtown will benefit all residents, not just a few. “How do we expand the economic pie and economic opportunity in the city of Detroit?” he said.
Both men opposed a proposal, now being studied by Detroit City Council, to require developers who receive incentives for projects to negotiate community benefits agreements with residential groups. Miller said it would add a layer of bureaucracy to an already complex development process, requiring developers to deal with “autonomous groups not responsible to anybody.”
Finney agreed, saying it would be more productive to look for ways to generate economic development in the neighborhoods rather than forcing developers to deliver “entitlements.”
“We need to be capitalists,” he said. “Entitlements hurt us.”
Finney, like his boss Snyder, called for reform of the nation’s immigration laws to allow more highly educated and high-skilled workers to come here and to stay in Michigan after receiving degrees. “It’s beyond comprehension we don’t have a good immigration strategy,” he said.
Call to ACTION: Contact the Governor to demand an apology from Mr. Finney