Legislature approves economic district

ESCANABA – Legislation to designate Delta and Marquette counties as an economic development district was approved by the Michigan House and Senate on Thursday and now awaits Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature.

Once enacted into law, the legislation will amend Public Act 275 to include a sixth Michigan Development Corporation in the two-county area. Five such districts exist downstate and are eligible for state funding and tax incentives.

Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole said he is pleased with Thursday’s House and Senate votes in favor of the micropolitan district in the central U. P.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome of the initiative and I’m looking forward to working with the various units of government in Delta and Marquette counties in advancing economic development opportunities for the region.”

Gladstone City Manager Darla Falcon expressed similar sentiments this morning.

“I’m very excited about it. I think this is a good thing for both Delta County and Marquette County.”

The bills called for designation of a next Michigan Development Corporation with the Michigan Strategic Fund giving preference to an entity made up of not fewer than two contiguous counties with a combined population of 103,000 to 106,000 and the population of the largest city of one county when combined with the largest city of the other county is 32,500 to 35,500.

Legislation for creating the economic development district in the U.P. have been moving at a fast pace in Lansing since the bills were sponsored last spring by Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) and Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette).

A Senate hearing on the legislation was held in Escanaba in August. Gov. Snyder attended and expressed his support for expanding economic opportunities in Michigan.

The House version of the bill was passed in the Senate on Wednesday and the Senate version was passed in the House later on Wednesday.

House Bill 4782 and Senate Bill 397 went back to their respective chambers and were passed by the House and Senate on Thursday. The next and final step will be Snyder’s signature.

Because both pieces of legislation were given “immediate effect,” once the governor signs them into law they take immediate effect rather than having to wait 90 days from the end of the legislation session, explained O’Toole.

If the governor does not sign the bills or veto them within the 14-day period, they will automatically be enacted into law, he added.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net