Monday, April 20, 2009

$2 Million More to Build a Meijer in Michigan Than in Indiana

We still love the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA), an offshoot of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation which authorizes tax breaks.
In its meeting last month, there was a bit of exchange about a new Meijer being built in Berlin Township a bit east of Flint. The new location will hire around 190 full time workers. This, from the minutes:
“(Board member Jackie) Shinn inquired about the difference in cost compared to Indiana. There was a $2 million difference in the labor in Indiana and it is less expensive to build there. Meijer faces a significant competitive disadvantage by relocating in Michigan without the benefit of incentives.”
The board’s response to this? A 100% standard employment tax credit for 8 years. We are for tax concessions when they are needed to remain competitive – within the state. But when we are looking at a neighboring state that has a better shot at landing a large employer because of its union base and attached costs, would that not ignite some kind of debate?
Union costs in Michigan are of course what fuel this cost discrepancy. Michigan has about 30% more labor membership than Indiana.
A quick look at the records shows that Jackie Shinn, chief deputy director at the Michigan Department of Transportation, has no inclination at all to reflect on why Indiana can get the job done cheaper than Michigan.
Her political contribution list is filled with money filtered to the pro-union forces here. She has donated thousands of dollars to the Granholm administration and has been rewarded with a lofty, powerful position as a result.
The free market is not free when you have a cabal with such fealty to costly union strongholds. Did we mention Michigan’s unemployment rate?

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