By Mike Kruzman /

A new bill package that seeks to attract job growth in communities across the state is being backed by a local lawmaker, although it has also drawn criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township voted this week to create the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve, or SOAR, Fund. The fund is a new economic incentive tool that will give the state legislature leverage to ensure Michigan can remain competitive in the modern economy. The SOAR Fund will provide economic assistance for critical industries, create workforce training opportunities, and get future job sites ready for development.

While the bill passed 83-21, five Democrats and 16 Republicans voted against it. Opponents claim the fund is misusing taxpayer funds to benefit corporations.

However, supporters say the legislature would control how funds are spent, and all project agreements are pledged to include clear benchmarks and provisions that would hold fund beneficiaries accountable if they don’t hold to their promises.

Bollin indicated in a release that the money put into the fund would come from the surplus of one-time COVID funding from the federal government.

Bollin said that “with a new focus on site development and workforce training, we can attract jobs in growing high-tech fields like the electronic vehicle industry that will have ripple effects for the mom and pop shops in our neighborhoods.”

Following their passage in the House, the bills moved to the Michigan Senate, where they were approved on Thursday. Due to discussion on just how much funding to put into the fund and other legislative rules, final action will not occur until next week.