Quentin L. Messer, Jr.: Always bet on Michigan | Business

Editor’s note: This article was published in the Record-Eagle’s Economic Outlook 2022 section. For more stories, click here to read the section in its entirety online.


The past year should leave no doubt that when you bet on Michigan, you are close to a sure thing. In partnership with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Legislature, and regional partners like Traverse Connect and Networks Northwest, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is laser-focused on building a championship economy for the 10 million-plus Michiganders.

In December 2021, Gov. Whitmer signed the bipartisan Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve – or SOAR – legislation, enabling Michigan to attract billions in investment.

In less than a year, the SOAR Fund has been instrumental in securing transformational projects that are anticipated to create 7,370 new jobs, save at least 1,000 existing Michigan jobs, and invest $9,375 billion in communities across Michigan.

Among these investments is battery supplier Gotion’s $2.36 billion investment to create 2,350 jobs in Big Rapids, which stands as the largest announced economic development project investment this far north in the state.

Transformational projects like this have not only put the world on notice that Michigan plays to win but will also translate into more customers for small businesses in Northwest Michigan.

While we must win the investments that will secure the next generation of automotive and mobility industry growth, Team Michigan remains committed to attracting investments in other key focus industries, including a $120 million investment from global pharmaceutical industry leader Pfizer to expand operations in Kalamazoo, a $300 million investment by high-tech electronics manufacturer Gentex for its Zeeland expansion, and a $430 million investment for life sciences solutions provider Global Life Sciences to establish new operations in Muskegon.

As an emerging leader in the semiconductor industry, Michigan is on the cusp of new and exciting developments thanks to the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act. Governor Whitmer and Michigan’s federal delegation were instrumental in their advocacy and support of the bill, which will boost American manufacturing while attracting new projects and creating and protecting thousands of jobs in Michigan.

In addition to attracting these significant investments in Michigan, we recognize that we must continue building a foundation for the future right here in the state. Michigan is synonymous with innovation, and Traverse City is poised to play an outsized role in our state’s continued inventiveness.

In September, the Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $50,000 Business Incubator Program Gateway Representative grant to 20Fathoms, the Traverse City-based tech startup incubator, workspace, and tech career hub in Northern Michigan. With the closest traditional SmartZone for tech startups in the region approximately 125 miles away, 20Fathoms is a critical organization in the northern Lower Peninsula, helping to fulfill support needs for technology-based startups.

20Fathoms’ services include business incubation, access to capital, tech talent, a network of accomplished business leaders, and other business resources. Since its founding in 2018, 20 Fathoms has graduated six startups from its startup incubator and 10 startups from its HealthSpark Accelerator, while providing 250 individuals with tech education contributing to a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in Grand Traverse County.

Northern Michigan is a key part of the Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour — an electric Route 66 and America’s best EV Road Trip.

The circuit will be a scenic route with reliable electric vehicle chargers along Lake Michigan’s 1,100-mile drivable coastline, creating a new electrified American Road Trip right here in Pure Michigan.

Further, Northern Michigan will be an important part of the state’s growing presence in the evolving, increasingly electrified outdoor recreation industry.

One of Michigan’s economic development advantages is our holistic approach to economic development. In addition to business attraction and entrepreneurship and innovation,

Team Michigan remains committed to growing vibrant communities – from reactivating public spaces to partnering on projects that bring additional workforce housing online.

The Traverse City DDA recently received a $1 million Revitalization and Placemaking program grant to activate the riverfront and MEDC has been a partner in the Commongrounds Cooperative, which is not only bringing new housing online, but also providing new childcare through our Match on Main program.

Strong, thriving communities are the foundation to both business growth and our ability to attract and retrain our workforce in the state.

And as we work to amplify and grow the talent attraction efforts that are so important to building a strong workforce pipeline in the years ahead, we continue to find new ways to leverage our Pure Michigan quality of life.

Initiatives like Michigan’s Creative Coast showcase career opportunities coupled with the Northern Michigan lifestyle to professionals across the country.

Mackinac Island was named the best island in the continental US by Travel + Leisure the same week Detroit was recognized as one of the World’s Greatest Places by TIME.

Meanwhile, Condé Nast Traveler included Traverse City in its list of the prettiest towns in the USA, noting the area’s Pure Michigan charm, outdoor activities, and offerings for foodies; Traverse City was also included in Matador Network’s list of the 22 Places You Need to Travel in 2022.

These accolades are further third-party validation of what every Michigander knows intrinsically: Michigan is the total package.

While we’ve accomplished much the past year, we know that hard work remains and there are numerous challenges that must be addressed.

Together, harnessing the problem-solving acumen of Michiganders and inspired by unmatched scenic beauty, Team Michigan — especially Northern Michigan — will remain the responsible bet for business investment, tourism, and building a life.

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