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Governor Granholm Signs Bill Creating Centers of Energy Excellence, Announces New Tool to Grow Alternative Energy Industry in Michigan

Contact: Tiffany Brown 517-335-6397

July 8, 2008 

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today signed legislation creating Centers of Energy Excellence, a program designed to bring companies, academic institutions, and the state together to create jobs in the alternative and advanced energy industry.  The centers will support cutting-edge research and development and bring new technology to market.  The initiative - passed with overwhelming bipartisan support - is part of an overall job creation and economic stimulus package proposed by the governor in her State of the State address earlier this year.
"Creating jobs in the alternative energy industry in Michigan is a major component of our aggressive strategy to build a diverse and global 21st century economy," Granholm said.  "This new tool will allow innovative companies to partner with our world-class universities and research institutions to create revolutionary technologies and make Michigan the state that ends our nation's dependence on foreign oil." 
Centers of Energy Excellence will support the development, growth, and sustainability of alternative energy industry clusters in Michigan by identifying and/or locating a base company in a geographic region with the necessary business and supply-chain infrastructure.  These centers will match the base company with universities, national labs, and training centers to accelerate next-generation research, workforce development, and commercialization.    
Under the new law, the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) is authorized to allocate up to $45 million from the 21st Century Jobs Trust Fund to establish and operate the program.  Grants will be made available to for-profit companies that meet the following criteria:  matching a federal, foundation or international investment, accelerating the commercialization of an innovative energy technology or process, or assisting in activities of the center, including workforce development and technology demonstration.  The centers will be located in areas where the MSF determines that state has competitive advantages in areas of workforce, intellectual property, and natural resources but where technical and supply-chain hurdles could prevent the commercialization process.
"This is a great new tool that will allow us to not only help grow alternative energy companies in Michigan but to create entire industry clusters around the state that have the necessary economic foundations in place to sustain long-term growth," said Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James C. Epolito, who is also chair of the MSF board.
Earlier this year, Granholm signed into law other parts of her economic stimulus plan, including:
-  legislation that establishes the most aggressive film incentive program in the nation;
-  anchor zone incentives designed to attract new business investment and jobs in fast-growing, high-technology industries;
-  reforms to the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) Act to allow more flexibility in meeting interstate and international competition for business investment; and,
-  changes to the Brownfield and Renaissance Zone programs to generate more investment in key sectors in regions across the state.
Senate Bill 1380 was sponsored by Senator Jason Allen (R-Traverse City).  The bill was given immediate effect.
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