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NEW LAW WILL PROVIDE FLEXIBILITY TO MICHIGAN FILM OFFICE

LANSING — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new law allowing the Michigan Film Office to negotiate the size of incentives it can offer to film, television and video game producers.

Under current law, the incentive program is strictly defined, resulting in fixed a percentage the film office must adhere to. Opponents of the tax breaks said the fixed rate often resulted in a greater expenditure of taxpayer money than was necessary.

With this change, the film office will have the option of offering production companies seeking expense reimbursement less than the current automatic 42 percent subsidy. In the short term, the new law will help officials decide how to allocate the $25 million approved for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

STATE SENATE WELFARE CAP AT FOUR YEARS

LANSING — The Michigan Senate approved along party lines a four-year limit on cash assistance welfare benefits. The measure is expected to win the approval of the state House. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said he will use the $77.4 million projected savings to help balance the state’s budget.

Republicans argue the state can no longer afford to provide lifetime welfare benefits, while advocates for low-income families argue that local communities are not prepared to deal with the 12,600 families who will likely lose benefits — averaging a little more than $500 a month — come Oct. 1, which is the start of the new fiscal year.

The bill, which also contains provisions prohibiting spending welfare benefits on lottery tickets, alcohol, tobacco and gambling, makes Michigan’s welfare time limits among the strictest in the Midwest.

LEVEL ONE BANK TO BOOST LENDING TO SMALL BUSINESS

FARMINGTON HILLS — Level One Bank Corp. announced it would be making available more than $100 million in loans to qualifying small businesses in Michigan thanks to funding it received from a new federal program.

The bank, based in Farmington Hills, was one of six small banks nationwide to receive funding from the U.S. Treasury’s Small Business Lending Fund, created to encourage community banks to increase their lending to small businesses.

Small business owners can contact Jeff Taliscka, VP, Small Business Loan Manager at (248) 737-3154 or jtaliscka@levelonebank.com for small business loan inquiries.

 

FORECLOSURES DOWN BUT HOUSING SLUMP CONTINUES

Foreclosure filings fell dramatically during the first half of the year, thanks to processing delays at the banks, reports RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed property. According to its latest figures, foreclosure filings are down 29 percent compared with the same period a year ago, and were down 25 percent from the last six months of 2010. Through June 30, 1.2 million U.S. homeowners — or one in every 111 households — received a foreclosure filing. RealtyTrac analysts say processing delays at banks will only prolong the housing slump, which could now last through 2016.

STATE AGRICULTURE DEPT. PROMOTES ‘BUY LOCAL’ CAMPAIGN

Spending just $10 a week on Michigan-made products like apples, cherries, asparagus, potatoes, blueberries, baby food, cereal and baked goods would keep more than $40 million in the state’s economy every week, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

To make it easier to find Michigan-made products, Spartan Stores kicked off its expanded “Michigan’s Best” campaign this summer. Shoppers will now find the Michigan’s Best label on more than 3,000 — up from 2,400 — Michigan-made products at all Spartan-affiliated stories.

ADVANCED VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY ACT ADVANCES TO FULL SENATE

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee approved legislation introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., which could help domestic manufacturers produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

The legislation would authorize appropriations to the secretary of energy for the research, development, demonstration and commercialization of advanced technology vehicles, including electric, hybrid, hydrogen and natural gas cars.

“We need to build the new vehicles of the future here in America in order to create clean-energy jobs in Michigan and across the country,” Stabenow said in a statement. “The Advanced Vehicle Technology Act will help our manufacturers and suppliers research and develop technologies to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, reducing costs at the pump and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

Should the legislation be approved, it would still need to pass the U.S. House of Representatives, where a companion bill introduced by Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, remains stuck in committee.

STATE LOSES CLEAN ECONOMY JOBS

Michigan is the only state to lose “clean economy” jobs in the past seven years, according to a report released in July by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

While the state ranks in the top third nationally with the number of clean economy jobs located here, it lost more than 1,500 of those jobs from 2003 to 2010, translating into a negative 0.3 percent annual growth rate, according to the “Sizing the Clean Economy” study.

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