June 19, 2024

Market One Director seeks more state investment in rural areas


Market One Director Zach Morris is urging Michigan lawmakers not to forget rural communities as they update the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve, or SOAR, Fund to attract more development in the state.

Morris testified before the House Economic Development and Small Business Committee last week as lawmakers consider redirecting some of the fund’s dollars to make Michigan communities more livable. He tells us a major barrier to development in Southwest Michigan is the lack of affordable housing.

“We have to make sure we’re making investments in housing and giving us the tools for us to be able to invest in acquiring lots and putting the infrastructure in so that we can attract developers into Southwest Michigan to build that workforce housing that our company presidents are right now talking to me a lot about,” Morris said. “Like, when are we going to get developers? When are we going to start building more houses in Southwest Michigan?”

Morris says under legislation now being considered, SOAR Fund dollars would be divvied up to make communities more attractive to businesses.

“This particular fund set up for helping programs, helping us attract companies into the community, but we know we also need to bring beside it programs in affordable housing, in community revitalization and mobility.”

Morris’ testimony included Market One’s economic development goals that emphasize the need for funding to address challenges that are plaguing small cities, towns, and villages in Cass and Van Buren counties. He says aside from housing, the most pressing issues are downtown revitalization, industrial site readiness, and population declines.

Morris tells us since many Michigan lawmakers are themselves from small towns, they were receptive to his message.

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