In brief

MotorCities National Heritage Area awards more than $66,000

FLINT — The MotorCities National Heritage Area, a non-profit organization dedicated to the historic preservation of the automotive industry, has approved grant funding to a dozen organizations through its 2020 Challenge Grant and Mini Grant programs, awarding more than $66,000 to 14 projects.

Grant recipients include a diverse assortment of projects from physical restoration of historically significant buildings or vehicles to educational programs that chronicle important stories from the region’s automotive and labor history.

“MotorCities, now in its 22nd year, is proud to continue to support such a varied selection of projects which support our rich automotive and labor heritage and its influence on our communities,” said Shawn Pomaville-Size, MotorCities Executive Director.

Six projects are recipients of MotorCities’ mini grants, which receive awards up to $1,500, including the Genesee County Historical Society (Flint): Supporting the creation of a digital education program utilizing iPads and video — $1,500. — G.G.

Michigan businesses to receive tax reduction ahead of schedule

LANSING — In 2020, Michigan employers will no longer see an Obligation Assessment on their tax rate notice thanks to the early payoff of Michigan Finance Authority bonds by the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). The UIA with its partners, sought to pay off the Obligation Assessment in 2019, allowing $55 million to remain with employers as opposed to collecting the additional tax through May of 2020.

“This is good news for Michigan businesses, their hardworking employees, and our economy as a whole,” said Governor Whitmer. “It will give employers more opportunities to grow their businesses and give back to their communities. I’m proud of the work we’ve done on this issue and will continue to work hard so every business can thrive in our state.” In 2012, UIA in partnership with the Michigan Department of Treasury, refinanced a $3.2 billion debt owed to the U.S. Treasury with the issuance of bonds to cover the unprecedented increase in unemployment claims during that time. The bonds were to be repaid by quarterly Obligation Assessments on employers. Although it was expected that it would take up to 10 years to satisfy the bonds, the bonds will be paid in full at the end of the fourth quarter of this year.

“Paying off the bonds early not only means tax savings for employers, but equally encouraging is the fact that a solvent Unemployment Trust Fund can guard against recession and ensure that temporary funds are available for unemployed workers,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

“Our team identified a creative solution to eliminate the Obligation Assessment ahead of schedule without jeopardizing responsible management of the Unemployment Trust Fund,” said UIA director Steve Gray. “Thanks to their proactive actions, employers will see a reduction of $65 – $217 per employee in 2020.”

Employers will receive annual 2020 tax rate determinations in Dec. 2019 that will not contain an Obligation Assessment rate and may visit the UIA website to view their estimated tax savings. — G.G.