Record-Setting Funding Leads to a Major Win for the Industry
A Government Affairs Update
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Last year, President Biden and Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, sending a clear message that the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries have been disproportionately negatively impacted by COVID-19. Therefore, a portion of the $10 billion sent to Michigan through this economic relief package is statutorily required to assist our industry. While the specific areas in need of funds have evolved based on industry needs, the mission has not. The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) is committed to providing real solutions by heavily advocating for the proper distribution of these funds.
To date, Michigan lawmakers have made transformational investments in infrastructure, education, and mental health services. However, with the remaining $7 billion in state and federal funding left unallocated, there is still work to be done. This includes significant investments in workforce development to replenish, train and recruit the next generation of hospitality leaders.
The return on investment for Pure Michigan, ProStart, and Hospitality Tourism Management programs is non-negotiable. In years past, these critically important programs to the success of Michigan’s hospitality industry were not a top priority during the budget process. However, in this budget cycle, the MRLA has secured record-setting funding to the tune of $2.5 million for the ProStart and Hospitality Tourism Management programs, and $45 million for Pure Michigan funding.
Some are born into the hospitality industry through family ties, others have a natural calling to it. But for many, it is their education, training, and experience that leads them to a career in the field. Graduates of ProStart and Hospitality Tourism Management programs are given the tools and training early in their educational tracks that are necessary to earn certifications that will pave the way for a life-long career in hospitality. This historic investment is a major win for the industry and will help reintegrate employees to a workforce that is still down about 40,0000 individuals. These funds can be deployed to expand schools, enhance curriculum, provide scholarships, and create new career opportunities.
Years ago, Michigan was the best kept travel secret in the country until the Pure Michigan Tourism Campaign launched and brought millions of visitors to enjoy the beauty of our great state each year. Pure Michigan was hit hard when travel was halted nationwide during the pandemic. Now that people are traveling again, recent data shows many are staying closer to home when booking trips. Investments made to the Pure Michigan Tourism Campaign will reestablish the travel industry as an economic powerhouse. Pure Michigan has proven to be successful in the past and will continue to be a pivotal economic and tourism engine for Michigan.
Thanks to the long-standing relationship between the MRLA, Michigan Legislature, and Governor Whitmer, this funding was made possible. The MRLA would like to thank lawmakers for their support thus far and hopes to continue working collaboratively to utilize the billions of dollars in unspent funds to transform this industry.
The state must distribute these funds by 2024. After distribution, any funds that are not spent by 2026 will be returned. As we celebrate these two major legislative victories, the MRLA will continue to advocate for additional industry relief. As they have in the past, these priorities will evolve based on the state of the industry.