MEDC

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After years of struggling, the city of Greenville is getting a big economic boost.

The American subsidiary of a Chinese aluminum wheel manufacturer plans to invest $140 million in the West Michigan city.

The new plant will employ 300 people when it opens in 2016.

The company is taking over part of the old Electrolux plant, which closed in 2006, taking with it 2,700 jobs.

Greenville City Manager George Bosanic says this is something his community needed.

User: Daniel Kulinski / Flickr

One state lawmaker says it's "like controlling very large purse strings with very little accountability."

Since 2011, more than $65 million in state money has been awarded to businesses all around Michigan, all on the signatures of just two individuals.

Is this a worrisome lack of transparency? Or a good effort by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to be nimble, to be able to get state incentives into the hands of businesses to help them grow and strengthen Michigan's economy?

Chris Gautz reported on this for Crain's Detroit Business.

*Listen to full interview above. 

A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacturing facility in Livonia, Michigan. The company filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
A123 Systems Inc. / Facebook

Sometimes we all do it. We over-promise on what we can actually get done.

That is especially true for some people seeking money or investments. And it appears to be the case with some companies that received state money designed to create jobs in Michigan.

But some legislators in Michigan were left in the dark about that lack of performance, according to an audit by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General.

One of the goals of the Michigan Strategic Fund is to diversify the state's economy by giving out grants to companies, research groups, or start-ups. The goal is to support entities that can create jobs in the state. Job creation numbers can be part of the evaluation of a given grant's effectiveness.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This is a big weekend for film fans, but the movies honored this weekend at the Oscars may be the last ones to be in theaters as actual "films."  

And that’s bad news for many small neighborhood and drive-in theaters in Michigan.

A night at the neighborhood theater

The Friday night crowd is gathering in the lobby of the Sun Theater in Williamston.

Everybody seems to know everybody else at this small, one screen, neighborhood movie house. From the low ticket prices and very affordable concessions, the Sun Theater is a throwback, and that’s especially true for what’s at the top of the stairs at the rear of the theater.

35 millimeter film is flickering through a projector, which shines that night’s movie on to the silver screen.  

It’s basically the way films have been shone for a hundred years, but that’s about to end.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Two economic development groups, one from Grand Rapids and another in Muskegon are asking the state of Michigan to approve a regional economic development corporation. It could provide marketing and tax incentives for a narrow purpose; to attract businesses that need property with two or more modes of transportation.

Photo courtesy of Inforummichigan.org and Peplin Photographic (larrypeplin.com)

When the Governor gave his State of the State speech, I was standing on the crowded floor of the House of Representatives.  Governor Rick Snyder outlined his plans to get Michigan back to work.  We all listened as he said the Michigan Economic Development Corporation would lead the way.

“The MEDC will recalibrate its efforts and become a better partner with these regional groups to enhance economic gardening, talent enhancement, and support service to companies.”

The state’s new economic development chief says the “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign should also be used as a tool to grow and attract businesses. Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief sent us this report from the Capitol:

Michael Finney was confirmed as the new CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation by its board of directors. Finney was Governor Rick Snyder’s choice to lead the agency.

Finney says the “Pure Michigan” campaign is already a success story in selling the state as a tourist destination:

So we want to find ways to use that as a brand that will represent both tourism and business in our state. We think it’s a great brand and we intend on exploring that further as we go about our business of effectively marketing Michigan as a desired place to grow a business.

Finney says that can be done using free media and without increasing the Pure Michigan ad budget. He also says there will be a shift in the focus of the state’s economic development efforts toward helping entrepreneurs who are already in Michigan grow their businesses and hire more workers.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Republican Governor-elect Rick Snyder continues to name new members of his incoming administration. 

Yesterday, Snyder announced that Doug Rothwell would lead the Michigan Economic Development Coporation.  As Rick Pluta reports, it will be Rothwell’s second turn at the job. He was the MEDC’s first director after Governor John Engler created the agency in the 1990s. Rothwell is currently the President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of the state's top 75 CEO's.

In a show of bipartisanship, outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm stood next to Snyder as he made the announcement.