I-69 International Trade Corridor approved

FLINT — The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Strategic Fund Board approved the Act 7 inter-local agreement for the I-69 International Trade Corridor to become the state’s largest Next Michigan Development Corporation, Feb. 27.

The I-69 NMDC covers four counties — Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair and Shiawassee – 33 municipalities, major transportation assets such as Bishop International Airport, Canadian National and CSX railways, the Blue Water Bridge and a number of major highways along the corridor such as I-69, I-75, I-94 and U.S. 23.

According to Tim Herman, CEO of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce today’s announcement represents the culmination of a year-long effort to create a new economic growth opportunity to bring jobs to the region.

“Today is a great day for the region,” said Herman. “Not only was this one of the most sophisticated collaborative initiatives spanning the four counties, it was by far the largest in geographic scope and number of partners. This is a huge example of what can be accomplished when we work together.”

David Hollister, former Lansing Mayor and Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances for the Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF) said that the challenging economic situation over the past decade has brought government and business groups together in an unprecedented manner.

“The I-69 NMDC is a major accomplishment and sends a clear signal that the communities see working together on increasing trade as a way to create new jobs,” said Hollister.

As an NMDC, the I-69 Corridor can now offer economic incentives to businesses that utilize multiple forms of transportation provided that they locate near major transportation facilities. The Corridor will benefit from marketing Bishop Airport, major freeways, the Blue Water Bridge, CSX and Canadian National rails, as well as several water ports to businesses that are engaged in international multi-modal commerce. Businesses can benefit from state and local incentives, tax increment finance plans and real and personal property tax abatements, as long as they use at least two of the four designated transportation modes: air, freight, rail or water.

“This is not just great news for Genesee County, it is great news for all of the counties involved,” said Jim Rice, Director of Bishop International Airport. “We are much stronger as a group than we are individually. I look forward to the continued economic progress we can make in the region by acting as a team.”

According to Janice Karcher, Vice President of Economic Development for the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce the collective strength and the collaborative spirit of the four counties was what made this designation happen.

“This is an incredible opportunity to grow the region and create jobs,” said Karcher. “Now that we are officially an NMDC we are poised and ready to make things happen in the region. The tools we gain through this designation will definitely enhance our job creation efforts.”

There are now three designated regions including metro Detroit, Lansing and the I- 69 Corridor. The Next Michigan Development Act allows for up to five NMDCs in the state to be granted by the Michigan Strategic Fund in cooperation with the MEDC. — G.G.

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