News Story

Giving Taxpayer Dollars to Some Corporations A Lucrative Business For These Nonprofits

The MEDC, the state’s corporate welfare agency, has local partners

The head of a regional agency involved in getting government subsidies for particular businesses saw his total pay increase from $337,000 in 2017 to $573,000 in 2019.

Paul Krutko’s gross pay as president and CEO of Ann Arbor Spark has attracted the attention of at least one elected official in the counties where it is active.

Wes Nakagiri was the sole dissenter in an 8-1 vote of Livingston County commissioners when they decided to give Ann Arbor Spark $175,000 in each of the next three years. He pointed to the chief executive officer’s pay as one reason.

“It looks like Ann Arbor Spark is transitioning from corporate welfare to CEO welfare,” Nakagiri said, referring to the salary. “I am opposed to using taxpayer dollars to fund corporate welfare. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.”

Ann Arbor Spark is not the only organization in the state that spends taxpayer money in the name of economic development, promoting taxpayer-funded government subsidies for particular developers and corporations.

This entity received $1.23 million from taxpayers in 2019, with total revenue of $7.14 million that year.

Quintin L. Messer, the CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, collects $287,000 annually. The MEDC is the state government agency that cooperates with local corporate subsidy agencies by helping steer state tax revenue to projects in their own region. It also receives Indian casino money the state gets under agreements entered with the tribes.

The Detroit Invest Foundation, a similar nonprofit corporation, took in $37.5 million in revenue in 2019, of which $2.9 million came from taxpayers. Its CEO collected $400,000 in total compensation that year.

There was no response from Ann Arbor Spark when it was contacted for a comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.