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Opinion | American Rescue Plan investment strategy is Michigan’s space race

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense pain and suffering across Michigan. There isn’t a corner of the state that was left unscathed by the physical, emotional and economic impacts of the virus.

Geno Alessandrini, Dawn Crandall, Renze Hoeksema
Geno Alessandrini is the business manager for Michigan LIUNA. Dawn Crandall is the executive vice president for government relations at the Home Builders Association of Michigan. Renze Hoeksema is vice president of corporate & government affairs at DTE.

At the same time, state lawmakers and the governor can navigate and lead us through a once-in-a-generation opportunity to push the reset button on the trajectory for Michigan’s success, but they must act now! With roughly $6 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars available, these leaders have the chance to reevaluate our needs and determine how we can not only recover from the pandemic, but emerge from it stronger than ever.

We must use these ARP funds strategically because this level of federal stimulus has never been seen before and may likely never happen again. It is critical that every dollar is leveraged to provide the maximum return on our investment. That’s why business leaders, labor, statewide policy experts and local officials have joined together to form the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan. Working together, we set out to develop a bold vision to build Michigan’s future in a way that capitalizes on the economic value of thriving communities, advances equity, builds community wealth, supports entrepreneurship, prioritizes the need for talent and spurs business development.

The plan we have developed is called the Michigan Prosperity Roadmap. It includes investment strategies for improving our infrastructure, our fiscal health, our communities, our economy and our public health and safety. Our goal is for lawmakers and the governor to use this plan as a framework for Michigan’s recovery, and it’s vital that they get to work and invest in our future prosperity immediately.

State policymakers need to understand that other states around the country are racing to develop and approve plans to invest their ARP funding. Every day we fail to act we allow Ohio, Indiana, Florida and 46 other states to get ahead of us. They are positioning themselves to emerge from the pandemic on the fast track for future success and growth. Michigan cannot sit back and watch others be the first to capitalize on this opportunity. We need to lead the way.

This is Michigan’s space race, and unless Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and our legislative leaders treat our recovery with that same urgency, we will lose. Only this time, we’re not racing Russia to be the first to reach the moon. We’re competing against other states over who can be the first to leverage their ARP funding to capture the most business investment, jobs and top talent.

Time is running short. If Michigan does not have a solid spending strategy in place this winter, we stand to lose out on an entire construction season next year. We cannot afford to waste a single day when we have unmet needs right now. And we certainly cannot stand idle while other states move forward.

The Michigan Prosperity Roadmap provides our leaders at the Capitol with a bold and detailed path forward. But like any roadmap, we recognize there are multiple routes that can be taken to reach the final destination. Our coalition is ready to get to work, to find common ground and to invest in our long-term growth and prosperity. The race is on and we’re here to help make sure Michigan wins.

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