Pretty much the only bright spot in the Michigan job market is clean energy jobs, as the NYT reported today:
Since 2005, the number of green jobs in Michigan has grown by 8 percent, while construction jobs have declined 20 percent and manufacturing jobs have fallen 14 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And that explains the excitement over even a seemingly modest piece of good news:
The announcement of a new plant employing just 100 workers might seem like a long shot to attract the chief executive of General Motors, two senators and a raft of state and local officeholders from across Michigan.But in a state that has lost 800,000 jobs this decade, 18 percent of its work force, the Aug. 13 official opening of a G.M. factory to build electric-car batteries in Brownstown, about 20 miles southwest of Detroit, was a can’t-miss event.
The picture on the right is GM’s former
“The phrase ‘new plant’ isn’t one we’re used to hearing these days,” said John Cherry, Michigan’s lieutenant governor, as he stood inside the sprawling, empty building in this industrial town about 20 miles south of Detroit.
Any new factory would be celebrated in this state, which has been hit harder than most by the recession.
But the one in Brownstown held particular significance because it was another small step in Michigan’s efforts to revive its economy with “green” manufacturing.
The state has moved aggressively to offset the drain of traditional auto manufacturing jobs by promoting Michigan as the place to invest in alternative energy projects.
Of course, in the not too distant future the only jobs left will be green. That’s why smart states like Michigan — and smart presidents like Obama — are pushing to ensure that the United States becomes the world leader in what will certainly be the biggest job creating industrial sector of the century. Here’s more on what the state is doing:
By the end of July, for example, Michigan had already exhausted its full year’s budget of $725 million in tax credits to attract new companies to the state.
Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm has been asking state legislators to allocate more tax credits, specifically to help redevelop an old Ford Motor Company plant in the town of Wixom into a $1 billion green manufacturing center. The legislature is expected to approve an additional $100 million in credits as soon as this week.
Three companies, Clairvoyant Energy from California, Xtreme Power from Texas and Oerlikon Solar from Switzerland have committed to moving into the vacant Wixom plant if tax credits are available. Executives from the companies plan to join Ms. Granholm and Ford’s executive chairman, William Clay Ford Jr., at the plant Thursday to celebrate the redevelopment project, which the state sees as a centerpiece of its green-oriented revival effort.
The chief executive of Clairvoyant Energy, David Hardee, said Michigan was an ideal location for his solar-energy company because of the availability of so many skilled workers and its manufacturing background.
Mr. Hardee said he also had been impressed by the state’s determination to reinvent itself as an incubator of alternative-energy companies.
“Maybe I’m just rooting for the underdog,” Mr. Hardee said of Michigan. “This is exactly what renewable energy is all about.”
The Wixom project is expected to create about 4,000 jobs, which would be one of the biggest green-energy developments in the state so far.
There have been other successes. A solar-panel manufacturer has resurrected a closed refrigerator plant in the small city of Greenville in western Michigan. Earlier this summer, General Electric said it would build a research center near Detroit, employing 1,100 workers on wind-turbine technology.
Now if only GE would quit the coal industry front group that is trying to block our clean energy future
The Obama administration is supporting Michigan’s efforts. Last month, the president announced $2.4 billion in financing for advanced battery and electric-vehicle projects across the country, with more than half of the money going to companies in Michigan.
State officials project that battery projects will create almost 7,000 jobs in the next 18 months, and 40,000 by the year 2020.
The plant in Brownstown, while small, is G.M.’s first venture into assembling batteries for its own vehicles. With most battery production now concentrated in Asia, the G.M. facility is considered a step toward building a manufacturing base in the United States.
Let’s hope GM’s new 230mpg Chevy Volt succeeds.
- Duke’s Jim Rogers: “Green jobs put people to work, achieve long-term cost savings and ease demand on limited resources”¦. Performing every job in a more sustainable manner, however, must begin with a mandate from leaders”¦.”