Business Leaders for Michigan, a collective group of CEOs from Michigan’s largest companies, unveiled its plan Monday for recovering Michigan’s economy from damage of COVID-19.
The plan focuses on repurposing existing state and federal funding to manage recovery, such as directing funds to a statewide virus testing system, streamline road and infrastructure projects, and redirect block grants for infrastructure to small- and medium-sized businesses.
“BLM’s first and foremost response to the COVID-19 crisis has been around public health,” Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of BLM, said in a press release. “The shutdown of operations across industries is unprecedented. There was no playbook for this situation, so we worked to create one that could guide businesses of all sizes in keeping employees, suppliers and customers safe. Now, we’re focused on a new playbook: a plan that stabilizes our state’s economy by helping state government and employers get people back to work safely and using our shared resources most effectively.”
Nearly 1.5 million Michigan workers have filed for unemployment benefits since March 15 when the COVID-19 outbreak began and businesses shuttered out of fear or following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s March 24 stay-home order. However, businesses have been slowly returning to work, including automotive on May 11 and limited retail late last month.
To “restart” the economy, BLM recommends collaborations with banks to expand short- term loans and gap financing; continuation of the state’s Work Share program that allows workers whose hours are cut to draw partial unemployment; protections for employers during reentry including “against adverse employee actions,” expansion of Michigan’s Good Samaritan laws to provide retroactive and prospective product liability protection to companies making products related to COVID-19; extend property tax deadlines for business and allow deferments, etc.
BLM also outlines how to “restructure” the Michigan economy by forming an task force between the governor’s office and Legislature to secure maximum federal funds for distance learning, supply chain issues and more; prioritize and streamline road projects; accelerate broadband investment; allow school districts to extend the school year and expand summer programs; use resources to find displaced workers new jobs; implement accelerated certification programs for in-demand jobs, etc.
To “reignite” the economy, BLM said to redirect Community Development Block Grant dollars from infrastructure to urban small- and medium-sized businesses; fund the $5 million Pure Michigan campaign Whitmer cut last year to boost the state’s tourism industry; expedite reviews and approvals and permits for construction, infrastructure and business expansion projects.
The entire recovery will take 12 months to 24 months, according to BLM.
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