- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - Proponents of industrial riverfronts in Michigan are seeking taxpayer funding to improve the aging infrastructure and huge facilities around the waterfront.

A pair of bills that recently passed the Michigan House would expand the ability to use tax money for private maritime businesses. The proposed legislation is now in the Senate.

The legislation would allow taxpayer money to go toward upgrading infrastructure, such as crumbling seawalls. It would also allow the private industries to enhance their facilities.

Detroit Wayne County Port Authority executive director John Loftus said there are great opportunities along the Detroit and Rogue rivers to expand the city’s maritime opportunities, as well as cargo and freight capabilities.

Those opportunities exist because so much has been abandoned over the years, including a once-bustling amusement park, The Detroit News (https://detne.ws/2dOA06B ) reported.

And, according to state Rep. Holly Hughes, the bills would mean more jobs, imports and exports.

“I have spoken with lake shippers, dock owners, manufacturers and many other stakeholders who believe that Michigan has great potential to develop and enhance our state’s ports,” Hughes said.

However, there are some critics who say the proposed legislation is foolish.

“Muskegon used to have the freighter cargoes back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, but that went away with our manufacturing jobs,” said Max McKee, president of West Michigan Dock & Market Corp., a waterfront storage facility. “These bills think if you build another port, with taxpayer money, that cargo will come back to Muskegon. That’s not going to happen.”


Information from: The Detroit News, https://detnews.com/

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