Michigan Land Use Institute

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Brownfields’ Big Pay-Off

10-year record shows few other strategies are as good at generating jobs, economic vitality

November 10, 2005 |

Michigan’s brownfield redevelopment program is an immensely cost-effective, well managed, and productive economic development program, particularly for Traverse City and a few other northern coastal communities.

Along with the $4 billion of new investments in land that previously had generated no activity at all comes 14,000 jobs, 1,500 new housing units, and great promise for downtowns across northern Michigan. This payoff was built on the following taxpayer-supported investments:

  • Michigan’s Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and Loan Program awarded $122.9 million to 300 successful, now-completed projects.
  • The state DEQ approved more than $65 million for brownfield redevelopment tax increment financing from 1996 through 2004.
  • The Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved over $77 million in economic development expenses from 2000 to 2003.
  • The Michigan Department of Treasury approved $122 million in Single Business Tax Credits for brownfield redevelopment projects since 1996. 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency pumped $28 million in grants and loans into Michigan since 2000.

The total state investment, $386.9 million, produced jobs that cost an average of $27,635 each, a bargain when compared to other economic development programs. 

Need More Influence
But only a few northern Michigan communities have tapped into state brownfield redevelopment funds. For the region to thrive, more towns must do so.
That would give more political clout to the region’s state lawmakers seeking to enlarge the pool of available funds in an era of persistent budget deficits, when leaders must thoroughly evaluate the cost effectiveness of state economic development strategies.

Based on its successful 10-year record, the state brownfields redevelopment program is at the top of the list of economic development strategies yielding big results at modest cost. The program is far more effective at promoting new jobs and business investment than almost any other state development initiative.

Michigan Land Use Institute

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