Whitmer appeals to clean energy companies for federal boost: Choose Michigan

Michigan’s Governor Whitmer is serving up a nationwide competition for green thumbs in battery manufacturing and advanced sectors with a hefty prize of state funding. A sassy new state fund backed by federal investments, aptly named the “Make it in Michigan Competitiveness Fund,” is ready to spill its purse of $125 million to award federal grants to companies looking to bathe in the clean energy limelight. There’s drama, there’s suspense, there’s a promise of a clean-energy revolution — it’s a real manufacturing renaissance, and it’s as much about creating solid jobs as it is about saving our planet.

Michigan Opens Clean Energy Manufacturing Challenge

A new nationwide competition was launched on Thursday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, targeting companies interested in state funding for expanding Michigan’s battery manufacturing and advanced sectors. The competition is backed by a fresh state fund, boosted by federal investments, dedicated to propelling Michigan’s clean-energy industry.

Whitmer initially proposed the “Make it in Michigan Competitiveness Fund” in the summer, aiming to ensure federally-funded clean-energy projects are located in Michigan. The fund is currently supported by just over $336.8 million from lawmakers.

This move aligns with President Joe Biden’s goals of reigniting American manufacturing through investment programs featured in recent bipartisan infrastructure law, CHIPS Act, and Inflation Reduction Act. These efforts are designed to reinstate domestic production and reverse offshoring of American manufacturing jobs.

Investing in Clean Energy and Job Creation

A $125 million budget from Michigan’s competitiveness fund is now accessible for companies that have won federal grants and are looking to invest in Michigan. The initiative, known as the “Battery Manufacturing and Advanced Manufacturing Challenge”, encourages battery and advanced manufacturing companies to apply for matching state grants for federally-supported infrastructure, climate, and clean energy projects. These projects could involve roles related to battery material processing, heat pump manufacturing, and solar supply chain development.

Zach Kolodin, the head of the Michigan Infrastructure Office, believes that Michigan has a “unique opportunity to utilize federal dollars”.

Commitment to Workers’ Rights and Environmental Impact

An evaluation team, including leaders from across state government, will assess the quality of jobs associated with a project and a company’s dedication to workers’ rights when deciding how to distribute state funds. The assessment criteria will be based on wages, benefits, skill development, union rights protection, and the environmental impact of the project.

Jigar Shah, director for the U.S. Department of Energy loan program, noted the Michigan challenge as quite unique compared to other states’ tactics for securing federal investments. He believes it could help companies to secure federal loans in the future.

Revitalizing Michigan’s Manufacturing Sector

The initiative is viewed as a method to assist Michigan communities that have lost manufacturing jobs and restore their former prosperity. “Whether we build the next middle class is a policy choice,” said Kolodin, “And we’re trying to do that with the competitiveness fund.” Existing vacant manufacturing facilities in Michigan put the state in a good position to fast-track new manufacturing projects.

Original Story at www.freep.com