Pork Stories

Michigan community centers, local governments partake in Lansing largesse

Projects in Muskegon and Oakland County receive taxpayer funds in $1B giveaway

The 2023 Michigan state budget included many a hand-picked local pork project. A billion dollars worth, per The Detroit News.

This year, community centers and items deemed “economic development” projects were popular, with local public-private partnerships and other endeavors awarded millions in state taxpayer dollars. Among the recipients of taxpayer largesse:

  • $1.3 million for Muskegon, for the Third Street Wharf redevelopment project
  • $750,000 for Farmington Hills, for the development of a community innovation center
  • $2 million for Oakland County, for “Economic Development Site Validation”

Muskegon received $1.3 million for the wharf project. It appears from reports in October that the city will work with West Michigan Dock and Market, a boat storage facility, to develop the area. There was no response to a request for comment from West Michigan Dock and Market.

CapCon asked Muskegon Mayor Ken Johnson and Vice Mayor Willie German Jr. in an email how the project will benefit taxpayers. They did not respond.

Farmington Hills received $750,000 for a community innovation center.

The city website mentions a building called the Hawk Makerspace. It says the facility is empowering “makers of all ages and abilities by providing access to a quality technical space.” The city says the facility will “work with our participants to foster a culture of community by way of shared resources, shared knowledge, shared experiences, and shared responsibility.”

Jackie Boleware, a Farmington Hills city council member, said in an email to CapCon that the “business incubator project investment” helps the city.

Boleware added: “On a personal level, (it is) beneficial to those like my neighbor, a child of immigrants, who are trying to get their business off the ground. Bottom line, economic development is crucial to moving our state forward. Thanks to our State Rep, Samantha Steckloff, for securing these funds for our city.”

Oakland County received a $2 million earmark in the state budget for “economic development site validation.” It was unclear from the budget documents how the money will be spent, or how it will benefit Oakland County government or county residents.

But Bill Mullan, spokesman for Oakland County, says the funds will benefit the ecosystem for manufacturing jobs. “Among the tools we use to aid our small manufacturers is to assist them with site upgrades that will help them qualify and compete for projects,” Mullan told CapCon. “The $2 million from the State of Michigan will boost the ability of small manufacturers in Oakland County to meet the site standards often associated with winning bids. There are no specific projects slated to receive these funds at this moment but will be identified in the future.”

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.