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State Leaders Highlight 21st Century Jobs Fund

November 22, 2005

New Initiative to Support Economic Diversity, High-Tech Businesses and Jobs

Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James Epolito, Department of Labor and Economic Growth Director David Hollister, State Treasurer Jay Rising and Department of Agriculture Director Mitch Irwin were joined by research, commercialization and local economic development leaders for a media roundtable to detail the 21st Century Jobs Fund announced yesterday by Governor Granholm. The new initiative, which the Governor signed into law, will use tobacco settlement revenue to create thousands of job opportunities in Michigan’s increasingly high-tech economy.
“The increased awareness of the exciting environment being fostered here will attract interest, investment and talent from throughout the nation and the world, in turn creating job opportunities for our citizens” Epolito said. “Michigan is going to be a hotbed of high-tech innovations moving from our great research centers to the marketplace.”
Epolito, Hollister and Rising detailed key elements of the 21st Century Jobs Fund, explaining how it will diversify and grow Michigan’s economy by focusing the new funding resource in three areas:

• Competitive-Edge Commercialization Program (up to $200 million): Will help diversify and grow Michigan’s high-tech economy by investing in basic research and technology transfer at universities and non-profit research institutions in four competitive-edge technologies: life sciences, alternative energy, advanced automotive, manufacturing, and materials and homeland security/defense.

• Capital Investment Program (up to $114 million): Will provide a much-needed infusion of capital to make investments in qualified equity, mezzanine and venture capital funds that will create or retain jobs in Michigan companies.

• Commercial Lending Program (up to $71 million): Will stimulate additional lending by financial institutions across the state by creating commercial loan enhancement programs in situations where a documented growth opportunity has been identified. Also re-establishes the Capital Access Program to help small businesses secure financing.

“No other state has the history of innovation that Michigan has,” Hollister said. “These funds will help our state spawn the next generation of innovators.”

The 21st Century Jobs Fund is based on the success model of the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor and Technology Tri-Corridor initiatives. Like the Corridor programs, the 21st Century Jobs Fund will employ a competitive, independent peer-review request for proposal (RFP) process. Independent review effectively removes politics from the process of awarding funds, ensuring that only the highest-ranking proposals are chosen to receive funding.

A timeline of key events in the plan’s implementation was also highlighted as follows:

December 15, 2005 All necessary board appointments completed
January 30, 2006 21st Century Jobs Fund request for proposals (RFP) issued
February 1, 2006 Capital Access Program available to small businesses
June 30, 2006 First round of 21st Century Jobs Fund awardees announced

A key element of the initiative is new funding to increase the amount of capital available to Michigan companies. The 21st Century Jobs Fund may invest funds in or alongside qualified equity funds, qualified mezzanine funds, and qualified venture capital funds that will create or retain jobs in Michigan companies.

“The 21st Century Jobs Fund significantly expands what the state can offer in support of Michigan entrepreneurs and early stage capital providers,” Rising said. “The 21st Century Jobs fund compliments the Governor’s many other efforts to transform Michigan’s economy.”

The initiative also includes $10 million dedicated specifically for the Agriculture Development Fund.

“This represents a huge opportunity to offer grants for agricultural development, for innovative projects ranging from alternative energy to food processing” Irwin said.

The meeting included comments in support of the new initiative from Saginaw Futures Inc. President JoAnn Crary; Kalexsyn, Inc. President David Zimmermann; Oakland County Deputy Executive Dennis Toffolo and Van Andel Research Institute Director of External Affairs John Van Fossen.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life. For more information visit the MEDC Web site at