Politics & Government
1:17 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Wall Street Journal ad calls right-to-work law "Pure Michigan"

Update 6:45 p.m.

A "Pure Michigan" ad in the Wall Street Journal caused quite the stir this week. It didn't feature sandy beaches, pretty golf courses, or fishing... but Michigan's new right-to-work law instead.

“We certainly understood that this was not an issue where there was unanimous support," Michael Finney, President of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation said.

But Finney says it can be a big deal for businesses. Since it's MEDC's job to promote "business advantages" in Michigan, Finney doesn't see a problem with it. He says they've used the "Pure Michigan" brand for business marketing for a couple of years now.

"We discovered that it was a very powerful brand that resonated with the business community just as effectively as the tourism community," Finney said.

Opponents say the ads could taint the tourism campaign.

Jessica Tramontana is with Progess Michigan. The organization says no taxpayer money should pay to promote such a divisive policy. Finney says the one day, full page color ad cost $144,000.

“This is a really successful tourism campaign. And in no way should it be wielded as a tool for right wing extremists who have been running Lansing," Tramontana said.

Finney says the MEDC will continue to spread the word to business leaders and site selectors that Michigan is a right-to-work state, the business tax rate has been lowered, the personal property tax will be phased out, and that many regulations have been eliminated.

-Lindsey Smith

Originally posted 1:17 p.m.

Fall colors. Golf courses. Ice fishing…right-to-work.

What do these things have in common?

They're all Pure Michigan.

At least that’s what the Michigan Economic Development Corp. thinks.

The MEDC has caused a stir by using the Pure Michigan logo in a recent Wall Street Journal advertisement praising the state’s new right-to-work law.

From MLive:

The full-page print ad, titled, ‘What happens when Michigan makes history,’ contains the following text:

“It’s a new day for business in Michigan. Michigan is the newest Right-to-Work state. This once-in a generation transformation has Michigan poised to become a preferred place to do business. Michigan has also redesigned incentive programs, streamlined regulatory processes, approved legislation to eliminate personal property taxes and launched a new flat 6% business tax, giving the state its most competitive position in decades. The perfect storm of opportunity, resources and passion is Pure Michigan.”

Some see the ad as a misuse of an effective brand that has been credited with attracting 3.2 million visitors to the state.

A spokeswoman for Progress Michigan, a group staunchly opposed to the new law, said the tourism campaign was being “wielded as a tool for the right-wing extremists running Lansing.”

Jewel Gopwani of the Detroit Free Press said the ad “throws salt into a pretty raw wound” and “[i]t’s disappointing that the state decided to tie Pure Michigan to an issue that has torn Michigan apart.”

So, do you think the ad was fair? If not, what should it have read?

You can let us know here on our website, or contact us on Facebook and Twitter.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom