MACKINAC ISLAND — Thirteen Michigan counties and their economic development agencies and other local government will share $1.3 billion in federal funding over the next two years to boost manufacturing.
The counties banded together as Advance Michigan to seek the funding from the federal Investing in Manufacturing Communities Program. They received word of the grant Wednesday morning and made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.
Advance Michigan was led by Wayne County EDGE, the county’s economic development agency, along with the Workforce Intelligence Network for southeast Michigan, a collaborative effort of nine community college, seven local workforce boards and economic development partners, and the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research.
Partners in the effort will develop strategies to produce a ready workforce, support innovation and job creation, and provide other support services, including site development and infrastructure, access to capital, and process improvement strategies.
Bryce Kelley, Wayne County EDGE director, credited WIN executive director Lisa Katz as being “the quarterback” on the effort.
The region that will share the grants spans much of southeast and south-central Michigan, stretching roughly from St. Clair County to the Lansing area southeast to Monroe, and includes the cities of Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing and Pontiac.
The funds come from a combination of 16 federal agencies and will support advances in connected and automated vehicles, lightweight and multi-material vehicles, advanced powertrains, and supply chain and logistics advances.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow called the announcement “a great day for the manufacturing renaissance, and it’s no surprise that Michigan is leading the way.”
Stabenow noted that the 13 counties involved in the grants account for a quarter of U.S. vehicle production and 70 percent of U.S. automotive research and development.
U.S. Rep. Gary Peters noted that having a healthy manufacturing sector is impossible without a healthy auto sector, and predicted that “the next generation of automobiles, no matter how they are presented, will continue to be based in Michigan.”
David Egner of the Hudson-Weber Foundation and the New Economy Initiative for Southeastern Michigan emphasized the cooperation required to get the grant — 170 letters of commitment or support from local agencies across the 13 counties.
He said the grants under the program will be used for everything from tying together community college workforce programs to bringing more medical device manufacturing to the area to lightweight materials manufacturing research.