Tyler to address growth alliance

Published 9:43 am Monday, July 20, 2009

Niles Daily Star

Six months ago, she left the Southwest Michigan Economic Growth Alliance (SMEGA) to serve the state of Michigan and the 78th District as state representative.

For Sharon Tyler, it has been a busy six months.

This Friday, Tyler returns to speak to members of SMEGA and the Berrien County Manufacturers Council, old friends not forgotten, for a members only breakfast being held at the Orchard Hills Country Club in Buchanan.

And she’s got plenty to say.

“I want to give them what I’ve learned going into office,” she said.
Tyler is planning on discussing “the State budget, new legislative actions, her work as minority vice chair of the House Agriculture Committee as well as the education, new economy, quality of life, and senior health, security, and retirement committees.”

Facing an audience made up of business owners who have felt the effects of Michigan’s worsening economy, damaged automotive industry and suffering manufacturing sector Tyler hopes to share what she’s learned from her first six months in office and, at the very least, provide information about what is happening at the state capital and what may or may not be ahead in the future.

“It’s very sad,” said Tyler, how legislation can get stalled even when Republicans and Democrats try working together to achieve initiatives. “It (legislation) never goes anywhere,” she said.

That may sound like disheartening news – but if there is a silver lining anywhere, some might say it is the opinion of lawmakers like Tyler who seem just as frustrated as taxpayers.

When it comes to the business community, Tyler said she is afraid that there are more stormy economic and unemployment woes they’ll be forced to weather.

“I don’t feel we’ve seen, yet, the worst,” she said. From what she’s observed, Tyler explained, what lawmakers see happening in Detroit and Grand Rapids tends to hit the southwestern corner of the state three to six months later.

Tyler said, even considering all of the economic hardship businesses have been facing, “what I have seen,” she said, “is certain companies are becoming stronger…and are finding a new niche.”

Still, Tyler added, “we shouldn’t have been put in this situation that we’re having to reform things.”

Stimulus dollars that so many were hoping would help create jobs have either come with too many restrictions, Tyler said, or will have to be used to assist the budget.

“We’re using it too much to fill the space in the budget, where we should have been able to use it to create jobs,” she said.

Regulations have also hindered lawmakers from being able to use those stimulus dollars that once held so much promise and in some cases, projects planned with the intention of using the money had to be cancelled, after the state was unable to match funds needed to get those projects off the ground.

With recent unemployment figures showing yet another increase in the state’s number of jobless crediting a struggling manufacturing industry, Tyler continues to voice her opinion on the Michigan Business Tax, which see says is “killing” state business owners.

“We create too much regulation to our businesses,” she said. “We can’t add additional taxes to our businesses. They will not survive.”

Though Tyler tends not to sugar coat the challenges Michigan and its businesses owners are facing, she also recognizes the positives that can come out of them. “One thing this economy does and it’s unfortunate,” she said. “Is, we’re forced to make changes. This is a national issue now. Economic development is definitely a bi-partisan issue.”

For businesses working to find ways to keep going in the thick of recession, Tyler suggests getting in touch with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (www.michiganadvantage.org) for help.

“(They are) working on an entrepreneur program to help business on that level,” she said.
“You have to realize you have to all work together to prosper,” Tyler said. “This is not the time to try and do it on your own.”