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Tue March 23, 2010
MEDC director admits errors in approving $9M tax credit
By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING, MI –
Michigan Economic Development Corporation officials have acknowledged missteps in awarding a $9-million tax credit to a convicted embezzler. Legislative hearings on the embarrassment for the state's job-creation program opened Tuesday.
The director of the MEDC was called before the House Oversight Committee to explain how Richard Short was able to win a big tax credit from the state for his alternative energy start-up business in Flint.
The questioning was occasionally difficult as lawmakers vented their frustration that a convicted felon - who's now facing a new round of charges -- seemed to have bamboozled state officials.
Republican Representative Jase Bolger.
"We've debated the logic of picking economic winners and losers. I hope you can understand that I'm sad but angry to be here discussing the logic behind picking felons and convicts."
MEDC Director Greg Main acknowledged mistakes.
"I think we may have been a little blinded by the opportunity to see some job growth in one of our most difficult cities, in Flint," he admitted.
Flint has a 27% unemployment rate. Main says the MEDC will hire a firm soon to conduct criminal background checks.
Governor Granholm signed an executive order Tuesday to shake up the MEDC and the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, including replacing some board members.