LANSING – State Representative Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) introduced House Bill 5403 today, which promotes expanded investment opportunities for local communities. It would specifically permit investment in infrastructure improvements, marketing initiatives and updated technologies that promote Michigan agriculture and farmers’ markets in Sterling Heights and in other communities.

“To move Michigan forward, we need to expand opportunities for businesses and residents,” said Yanez. “Many businesses have closed their doors, residents have lost their jobs, and cities have been left with vacant strip malls. My bill aims to help address that problem. It would empower cities like Sterling Heights to revitalize our business districts and neighborhoods with an added degree of flexibility to invest in Michigan agriculture. This, in turn, will encourage economic activity, and the creation and retention of jobs.”

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, agriculture, food processors and related businesses employ 923,000 Michiganders, which makes up 22 percent of the workforce and generates $25 billion in economic activity.

“Most people don’t recognize the important link between the agriculture and manufacturing industries,” said Yanez. “Many manufacturing companies use agriculture in their products. For instance, Ford Motor Co. actually uses soy products in its car seats. Facilitating the partnership between these two great industries is a win-win situation for our state.”

Farmers win because they can sell closer to home and save money on transporting their products to an expanded market. Local governments win because it will keep residents in town to shop, which will benefit other local businesses as well.

“For instance, when a city has a thriving farmers’ market, it attracts shoppers and can even encourage restaurants to shop locally for the food they serve,” said Yanez.

Local residents and consumers benefit from better quality food choices, more convenient locations and stabilized or increased property values. A similar bill, HB 4487, gave the same ability to downtown development authorities and passed the House earlier this year with strong bipartisan support.

“This snow will actually melt soon, and we will again enjoy all the locally grown produce that we look forward to each year,” said Yanez. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this bill through the House and Senate and to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature so our local communities can enjoy all the benefits of Michigan’s agriculture industry.”