Category: Prime Politics Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
As someone angry over government fraud and waste, I can understand the need for our elected leaders to tighten their financial belts when it some to spending our money. But I’m just a little confused that penny-pinching is becoming the overriding theme behind President Obama’s first long trip to sub-Saharan Africa later this month. Published reports about the trip have focused on the huge expenses attached to the trip that will include visits to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania.
Authorities say that hundreds of Secret Service agents will be sent to protect the President while in Africa, and a Navy aircraft carrier with a fully staffed medical center will be stationed off of the coast of visited nations in case of an emergency.
But the big time spending won’t stop there.
Fighter jets will provide 24-hour coverage over the President’s airspace and 14 limousines will be reportedly sent over from the United States to provide President Obama safe passage by roadway.
The Washington Post, which obtained internal documents on the trip, said it will cost in the tens of millions of dollars for the trip.
But when you consider that the President has made trips to Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia while making only a brief stop in Ghana during his presidency, why shouldn’t he go to Africa for a substantial visit, especially when the continent has been coined in several business circles “the New Frontier.”
Countries like Brazil and China have increased their investment in African nations and the United States needs to maintain its influence in the region while promoting trade, democracy, and empowering the youth and women. And with a strong Muslim component in many African countries, the continent is an increasingly important partner in global anti-terrorism efforts.
And Obama isn’t the first president to see Africa’s strategic importance. Presidents Bush and Clinton both visited Africa, with Mrs. Bush going to Africa five times in support of President Bush’s agenda.
I don’t recall the cost of those trips ever being questioned.
But now, as the first president of African descent prepares for his first major visit to Africa, Obama critics are looking to pinch pennies?
The Washington Post report says the costs for the trip are not out of line with what is spent when other presidents travel abroad.
So what gives?
Why is this news now?
Here’s a thought: President Obama is being held to a standard that other leaders haven’t had to match.
Just two weeks ago, President Obama was forced to defend the massive government telephone and e-mail surveillance program.
Few of his critics bothered to mention it was started under President George W. Bush.
Obama and his opponents can have legitimate differences on key policy questions like whether the Health Care Act will work as planned or if his amnesty program for illegal U.S. residents serves the nation’s best interests.
But when Obama detractors raise a phony issue like the cost of his foreign travel – costs that are in line with travel by previous presidents — Obama critics reveal just how paper thin their arguments are.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 June 2013 10:44
Category: Prime Politics Written by News One
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin seems to have an endless supply of inappropriate and ignorant comments when it comes to politics, and her latest comments do not disappoint.
While speaking at the annual meeting of the Faith and Freedom Coalition Saturday, Palin criticized President Obama and his decision to intervene with the fighting in Syria.
“We’re talking now more, new interventions, I say until we know what we’re doing, until we have a commander in chief who knows what he’s doing … well, in these radical Islamic countries aren’t even respecting basic human rights, when both sides are slaughtering each other as they scream over an arbitrary red line, Allahu Akbar, I say until we have someone who knows what they’re doing, I say: Let Allah sort it out.”
This past Thursday President Obama agreed to supply military support to Syrian rebels after intelligence agencies confirmed the Syrian military had used chemical weapons on its people. The use of weapons like the nerve agent sarin crossed...
Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 08:15
Category: Prime Politics Written by Paul Brown
Increasing access to capital is a key driver in Governor Snyder’s strategy to create more and better jobs in Michigan. In the first of our Capital Markets series on access to capital, Paul Brown, vice president, Michigan Economic Development Corporation Capital Markets group, discusses the strategies and programs that the MEDC is deploying to connect Michigan businesses with the capital they need to grow.
What is the Capital Markets group?
The Capital Markets group is comprised of a debt and equity team. Every team member came from the private sector and is truly a subject matter expert. We have a lawyer, accountant, several bankers, economists, etc.
We are focused on increasing the availability of capital for companies in Michigan. We do this by working with private sector capital sources, our key customer, to design programs that increase “eligible” investment criteria and capital capacity.
The Capital Markets group breaks down the private capital markets by stage of company development in order to determine if there is inefficiency in a particular market resulting in good companies not being able to find the capital they need to grow. In those situation we will consider creating a program if a small amount of state dollars can profitably be invested correcting for the inefficiency, resulting in the private sector reenter that space, and if private expert decision makers, who’s interests are aligned with the publics, can be the investment decision makers.
Simply put, we want the private sector to put in most of the money and make the investment decision, assuming our interests are aligned.
What has Michigan been doing to help businesses access capital? How does this compare to other state’s initiatives?
The Capital Markets group has been very active in creating and refining programs over the last several years and the ability to create a program quickly is critical to success. The capital markets are very fluid – we need to be able to create a solution as quickly as the issues develop.
We have programs that invest directly into and alongside venture capital firms, sub-debt firms, and senior lenders. Each program usually attacks a sub category of each of these. For instance, there is plenty of sub debt in Michigan generally, but there is a serious lack of sub debt for companies in underserved urban communities and for companies with sub debt needs under $5 million. We have just launched several funds targeting this market.
Michigan is now considered the leader among states in developing programs to support access to capital. Our early-stage equity programs are resulting in 10 percent year-over-year growth in our VC community when most of the country is shrinking at a 20 percent year-over- year pace. Our new sub-debt programs are one-of-a-kind and I believe will revolutionize the way economic development agencies deploy capital, aligning interests and investing with the private sector.
When an entrepreneur or business leader is comparing potential sites for their business, how does access to capital factor in?
It is one of the most important factors. There are a few companies that have the luxury of attracting state grants, even they should consider their long term access to capital needs. Michigan simply has more and better programs to help companies at every stage of development than any other state.
What do you see as the advantages to doing business in Michigan overall?
Our universities, location, transportation, tax climate are all advantages, but for me it’s innovation! Michigan has been the center of most of the economic booms in the U.S. Before we were even a country the fur trade boomed. The Hudson Bay Company had its headquarters in Michigan. Then timber, iron ore mining and steel, transportation of agriculture goods through the great lakes, and finally the industrial revolution/auto. Each of these was the tech revolution and boom of their time. It is hard to predict what innovation, industry or company will be next, but odds are it will happen here.
Where can someone go to find more information on programs that the Capital Markets team offers?
The MEDC has business development managers that cover the state. They are our front line with Michigan businesses and can provide information on all of MEDC’s programs. They work closely with businesses to address a variety of needs.
Can you give an example of a company that the Capital Markets team has worked with that showcases success?
Manistique Papers, Inc. (MPI) in Manistique, MI was opened in 1920. MPI is one of North America’s premier producers of 100 percent recycled fiber content. The company announced in 2011 it would shutter the mill in August after its lender wouldn’t work with it on loan terms that would allow it to continue operating. Manistique Papers was facing bankruptcy, including a sell-off of its assets. Then, Manistique-based mBank, brokered an agreement with MEDC to utilize the Capital Markets Loan Participation Program on the new extensions of credit being provided. Thanks to the MEDC- brokered deal, the company is on track to return to 156 employees from 35 and maintain operational sustainability.
Paul Brown, JD, MBA is the Vice President of the Capital Markets group of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Paul manages the bulk of the State’s $2 billion 21 Century Jobs Fund, which consists of venture capital, private equity, and mezzanine fund investments. Paul also developed and manages programs to enhance and streamline bank loans to businesses and many of the state’s tax incentive programs targeted at investors. He is considered a national expert in public-private finance, and has testified before Congress and several State House and Senate committees. Before joining MEDC, Paul was an attorney in the Manhattan office of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom LLP. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge John O’Meara in Federal District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan. Paul is also the founder of two technology companies, Front Door Insights and Front Door Direct. Paul was also a 2010 Democratic nominee for University of Michigan Board of Regents and named by Crain’s Business Detroit to their “40 Under 40”.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 June 2013 12:11
Senator Gregory and Representative Cogen Lipton Invite Local Residents to Coffee Hours June 17th to Discuss State Issues
Category: Prime Politics Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Legislators will be available to discuss details on the state budget and other community and State issues with area residents
OAK PARK—State Senator Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield) and State Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods) are inviting members of the community to join them for coffee and conversation regarding state and community issues—including the status of the state budget. They are holding coffee hours in Oak Park on Monday, June 17, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This will be an excellent and convenient opportunity for local residents to meet with their local legislators and sit down with them to discuss these and other issues.
Sennator Gregory will also be holding coffee hours individually in Southfield on Monday, June 17th, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. The details on both coffee hours are listed below.
OAK PARK COFFEE HOURS:
WHERE: Oak Park Recreation Building, 14300 Oak Park Blvd., Oak Park, MI 48237
WHO: State Senator Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield)
State Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods)
WHEN: Monday, June 17, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
SOUTHFIELD COFFEE HOURS:
WHERE: Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Rd., Southfield, MI 48076
WHO: State Senator Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield)
WHEN: Monday, June 17, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
For more information, contact Senator Gregory’s office at 517-373-7888 or Representative Lipton’s office at 517-373-0478.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 June 2013 15:06
Category: Prime Politics Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Measure adjusts funding levels for natural disaster relief
The House of Representatives recently approved a bill introduced by state Rep. Mike McCready that expedites the state emergency response process, helping to ensure communities receive assistance more quickly during natural disasters.
House Bill 4670 adjusts statutory funding levels for the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund to a minimum of $1 million and a maximum of $8.5 million. The bill also provides that any unused funds would remain in reserve for future use.
The measure was passed by a unanimous vote in the House.
Michigan has spent more than $12 million responding to disasters since 2005, including $3.1 million for the Duck Lake fire in 2012. In the past, legislative action was required to authorize relief. By increasing funding levels, House Bill 4670 would eliminate the need, in most cases, for the Legislature to appropriate funds for disaster response.
"Natural disasters have a considerable impact on residents, communities and state resources," said McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills. "By maintaining the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund at a higher level than in the past, we can improve our response time and make sure that our communities get the funds they need more rapidly. No community should have to wait for a bill to be passed in order to get help from the state."
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 June 2013 12:19
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