What Democrats Could Do About Right to Work, Michigan Trade Issues

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Financial services industry players see little change — at least in the short term — as Democrats take full control of Lansing for the first time in decades.

Leaders of statewide business groups representing bankers, as well as the venture capital and startup community, say their work is nonpartisan in nature and longstanding relationships with lawmakers will continue regardless of which party is in power.

Ara Topouzian, executive director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association, noted that the administration of Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II — a former software developer who worked at Microsoft Corp. – has been a strong supporter of state enterprise and venture capital. community.

Topouzian, whose organization does not endorse or financially support candidates, said he expects that support to continue during Whitmer and Gilchrist’s second terms, and hopes the state legislature increase funding for start-up initiatives.

The MVCA director highlighted the U.S. Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) 2.0 first round of funding, which was rolled out by the state in August and included $75 million for business capital start-up technologies.

That funding was a big deal for the state’s entrepreneurial community, Topouzian said, but more is needed.

“There are more opportunities in Michigan than there are funding sources,” he said.

Bankers, meanwhile, are aware of the changes in Lansing, but point out that more of their political work is happening at the federal level. Work at the state level is more focused on meeting and “educating” legislators, leaders say.

Rann Paynter, CEO of the Michigan Bankers Association, said his organization remains hopeful that Congress will pass the long-stalled SAFE Banking Act that would open up cannabis businesses to federally regulated banking services.

Michael Tierney, CEO of the Community Bankers Association of Michigan, said his trade group, which represents many of the state’s smaller banks, has worked closely with Democratic legislative leaders to ensure employers are not legally liable for employees. essentials getting sick at work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As long as the new Democratic stronghold on Michigan’s government remains “focused on the best interest of Michigan’s economy, it will be fine,” Tierney said.

One area he pointed to that could see improvement under Democratic scrutiny is housing, which he said remains scarce in many parts of the state where banks have business interests, but the lack of housing hampers the growth.

Democrats, Tierney said, “may be able to move forward” on that issue. “I just think it’s been a higher priority for them.”

Tierney and Paynter said they would welcome the opportunity to weigh in on members of the state House and Senate Financial Services Committees as Democrats take over the presidency next year.

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