Senate approves Green bill to broaden focus of Jobs Fund

LANSING―Information and agricultural processing technology-based industries would be eligible to participate in the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund under legislation approved in the state Senate today.

Sponsored by Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, Senate Bill 144 will amend the Michigan Strategic Fund Act and expand the definition of “Competitive Edge Technology” to include information and agricultural processing technology. The measure also adds a significant “catch-all” provision to include any other innovative technology.

“This legislation will encourage economic growth in Michigan agriculture and the information technology sector,” said Green. “It also greatly expands the focus of the 21st Century Jobs Fund, sending a message to all innovators and entrepreneurs here in Michigan and across the nation that we’re ready to do business.”

During his State of the State address in January, Gov. Rick Snyder called on legislators to expand the 21st Century Jobs Fund to include the agriculture industry, which represents a significant portion of the state's economy and is one of its few industries experiencing growth.

Green stated that a significant percentage of all agriculture commodities produced in Michigan are sent out of state to be processed, only to be returned to the state as a final product for consumers.

“Michigan needs to decrease our dependence on out-of-state food processors. What’s produced in Michigan should be processed in Michigan,” Green said. “But we also need to open our door to all innovators, not just those from a few, select industries. This legislation does exactly that.”

SB 144, which received unanimous support, now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.