Gov. Gretchen Whitmer May 20

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces May 20, 2021, she will lift many COVID-19 restrictions on June 1. 

(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday unveiled the Michigan Economic Jumpstart Plan, which, combined with previous plans, aims to allocate more than $1 billion for economic recovery.

“Under the Michigan Economic Jumpstart plan, we can harness these once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunities and channel it to raise wages, invest in small businesses, and uplift families, Whitmer said in a statement. “I look forward to engaging the legislature, local communities, and Michiganders as we continue thinking through the best ways to use the federal funds and state surplus to turbocharge our economy and make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The state has $2 billion remaining in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act funding and nearly $20 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Details of the plan include:

• MI Bigger Paychecks: Whitmer aims to spend $300 million to encourage businesses to increase wages by offering grants to cover the difference between the current wage and $15 per hour. The grants would cover a raise for the first three months of this raise if businesses retain the employee and pay the $15-per-hour wage for at least three more months.

• Michigan Reconnect: Whitmer plans to spend $120 million to build on the Michigan Reconnect program so Michiganders can get a better-paying job through a tuition-free credential, certificate, or associate degree for those 25 years or older. The program has already accepted more than 70,000 Michiganders.

• Futures For Frontliners: Whitmer’s plan would providing front line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic with tuition-free paths to earn a degree or certificate. The Futures For Frontliners program has already accepted more than 120,000 front line Michigan workers.

• Michigan Small Business Restart Program: Whitmer plans to spend $100 million to help restaurants cover costs by providing grants up to $20,000 for a mortgage, rent, taxes, payroll, and operating expenses. The plan would set aside $25 million for small businesses with fewer than nine employees, including over half of Michigan businesses.

• Whitmer‘s Michigan Mainstreet Initiative: Aims to spend $300 million on small businesses. The plan would include $100 million toward restaurants to help them cover costs, $125 million for small businesses left out of other incentives and organizations that support them, and $75 million in grants for startups.

• Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative: Whitmer’s plan would spend $125 million on grants for businesses that didn’t qualify or apply for other incentives. The plan would use financial institutions to provide loans to rural businesses or businesses with fewer than nine employees that struggled to access capital.

• Childcare grants: Whitmer proposed spending $370 million to expand access to no-cost or low-cost child care for 150,000 more families. Whitmer’s plan would temporarily increase the income eligibility threshold from 150% to 200% of the federal poverty line, waive out-of-pocket copays through fiscal year 2022, and provide a 10% increase in hourly rates for child care providers.

Whitmer also wants to hire 50 full-time staff for the Unemployment Insurance Agency.

“The combination of the federal stimulus plan and the improving public health situation have set the stage for robust growth in Michigan,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said in a statement. “The Governor’s plan will jumpstart the economy by providing the support that small businesses need to recover and grow and by helping parents find the child care they need to get back to work.”

In just a year, Michigan has flipped a nearly $3 billion deficit to a $3.5 billion surplus, thanks to a one-time infusion of trillions of federal spending into the state’s economy.

“Small business owners have been anchors of hope and support during covid,” Milinda Ysasi, CEO of Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, said in a statement. “As we work to restart our Michigan economy, it is important to center the lessons and lived experiences of our entrepreneurs. The success of small business owners is critical to an equitable and better normal.”

Last month Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.9%, beating the national average of 6.1%, but as of May 18, more than 816,000 Michiganders were receiving unemployment benefits.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.