A century ago, Michigan gave us the Model T. Now General Electric hopes scientists, engineers and technologists in the state will also be able to deliver key pieces of the smart grid. The company — already a heavyweight among smart meter developers — has just announced plans to research and develop manufacturing technology and software, including tech for the smart grid and renewable energy, at a new center in Wayne County, about 25 miles outside of Detroit.
According to a release from the company this morning, the new $100 million facility will employ as many as 1,100 people over the next few years working on “next-generation manufacturing technologies” for GE products, as well as new composites, machining, inspection, casting and coating technologies for the company’s aviation and energy units.
Michigan, where the unemployment rate has climbed to 14.1 percent, will chip in more than $60 million in incentives over the next 12 years. Led by Governor Jennifer Granholm, the state has been putting together similar packages for battery makers in recent months in an effort to build up a new industry as auto companies shutter plants and slough jobs. And this morning, Granholm’s office hinted at a “creative” incentive package for General Motors to build its upcoming subcompact car there, as the Associated Press reports.
But Michigan is hoping to build more than factories — we’re also beginning to see what might be the seeds of an innovation economy. Today’s announcement about GE’s plans to work on new tech in the state comes just a few months after Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz Hybrid subsidiary agreed to build a $9.9 million R&D facility there for propulsion systems that can be used in both alternative-fuel and conventional vehicles. Granholm helped lure Daimler away from a competing site in South Carolina with $7.5 million worth of state tax credits over the next decade.
Graphic credit General Electric