Saturday, January 18, 2014

MTEC Smart Zone, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, Rep. Dianda respond to Gov. Snyder's State of the State address

HOUGHTON -- New developments at MTEC SmartZone were among key issues Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder discussed in his fourth State of the State address in Lansing Thursday evening, Jan. 16. However, Snyder's speech did not make up for his failed environmental and social policies, according to some Michigan leaders.

Snyder talked about MTEC SmartZone’s collaboration with Michigan Technological University, entrepreneurs and local governments to foster economic success in the Upper Peninsula. That collaboration has continued to thrive for more than a decade, leading to new developments and opportunities for job creation across the Upper Peninsula.

"We have a situation where they are partnering with Northern Michigan University and Marquette. So we are bringing communities together and bringing synergy and power. So I want to complement those particular communities and those universities in the U.P. for their outstanding work," Gov. Snyder said in his address Thursday.

Since 2003, MTEC SmartZone has proven great success for the cities of Houghton and Hancock, creating more than 400 high-tech jobs and assisting over 47 entrepreneur technology start-ups by providing entrepreneurs with training and resource programs. Now, MTEC SmartZone is reaching out to the Marquette area to create the same successes for that economy. Both Marquette and Houghton-Hancock officials are looking to expand high-tech job creation with the development of a satellite business incubator in Marquette.

State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) said, "This collaboration brings so many positive opportunities to the Upper Peninsula. MTEC SmartZone has garnered statewide respect for their high-tech job creation and economic development. I’ve visited many SmartZones and we’ve got the best."

The mission of MTEC SmartZone is accelerating high-tech business growth to build a prosperous regional economy.*

MTEC SmartZone board member Dan Webber said, "It has become time for a more regional approach to leveraging the talents along the 'Technology Shore' between Houghton-Hancock and Marquette, supporting economic sustainability for the entire Upper Peninsula. Given the always-limited resources, we must work together to advance the best technologies that promote employment opportunities for our existing communities and the State of Michigan as a whole."

Sierra Club Michigan: Gov. Snyder needs to plan for clean energy

While the Governor praised the Smart Zone, he has not done enough for renewable energy in Michigan according a Sierra Club Michigan Chapter spokesperson.

"Last night, in his State of the State address, Governor Snyder spoke briefly about a framework for Michigan's energy policy," writes Mike Berkowitz, legislative and political director of the Sierra Club's Michigan Chapter. "Again, he failed to lay out a timeline to move us forward and lacked specific policy proposals for Michigan's energy policy. With the clock ticking, it's time for Governor Snyder to put forward a concrete proposal to update Michigan's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards."

In an email asking supporters to write to the Governor about stronger clean energy policies, Berkowitz noted, "Expanding renewable energy in Michigan is an opportunity to create jobs, spark investment in the state, rein in the increasingly high cost of electricity, improve public health, and reduce air and water pollution from burning dirty fossil fuels for power. Energy efficiency is the cleanest and cheapest way to meet our energy needs. By saving energy, we're cutting demand for dirty energy sources like coal, leading to cleaner air, while creating local jobs right here in Michigan."

Just before the Governor's State of the State speech, the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter released its first-ever gubernatorial Scorecard, which evaluates Rick Snyder’s performance on energy, environment, good government and related issues. Michigan’s chief executive got a failing grade, scoring 25 percent on the most important environmental actions taken during his first three years in office.**

State Rep. Dianda responds to State of the State Address

While State Rep. Scott Dianda agreed with the Governor's praise of the Smart Zone, he also noted the speech only promised more of the same failed policies that have yet to create jobs for Michigan families or deliver the best possible education to our students.

"During my time in the Legislature, I‘ve seen people struggle under Republican policies," Dianda said. "We need more funding for our classrooms, we need job opportunities that will build the middle class, and we need to be taking care of our seniors. The retirement tax took money out of seniors’ pockets and sent it to Lansing, and now they have less to spend at our fish fries and small businesses. That’s why I introduced a bill this week to repeal the new tax on retirement."***

Families face smaller tax refunds, or no refunds at all, because of the loss of tax credits and deductions including the child tax deduction and a severely reduced Earned Income Tax Credit, Dianda noted.

Women face greater economic struggles thanks to Republican approval of a new law making basic health care more costly.

Republicans continue to push gimmicks to address education including cyber schools and other entities that lack accountability and have yet to show any improvements.

"My fellow Democratic House colleagues and I have plans to bring relief to the Michiganders who need it," said Dianda. "I’ve listened to residents from my district, and I know what the U.P. needs to recover. We need to increase education funding and bring tax relief to the hard-working families who deserve it. Any budget surplus we have to work with should go toward these efforts."

Editor's Notes:

* Learn more about the MTEC Smart Zone at

** Click here to read more about Sierra Club Michigan's Scorecard for Gov. Snyder.

*** See our Jan. 14, 2014, article, "Rep. Dianda introduces bill to repeal state pension tax."

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