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Whitmer Announces Investment in Downriver Small Businesses to Grow Regional Economy


August 16, 2022



Gov. Whitmer Announces $1.6 Million Investment in Downriver Small Businesses to Grow Regional Economy

Part of the Department of Commerce’s $300 million coal communities commitment

LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $1.6 million grant to support the Downriver Riverfront Communities Economic Recovery Implementation Project. This grant is funded by the EDA’s $300 million Coal Communities Commitment.

“This economic development grant will help the Downriver community redevelop two coal plant sites and establish a new program to support local small businesses,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am grateful for this partnership with the Economic Development Administration and will work with anyone to grow Michigan’s economy, create good-paying jobs, and invest in every region of our great state. Along with this grant, we will continue making investments to ensure that no worker is left behind during any economic transition we face.”

“Global climate change is real and impacting our communities in many ways, and as we transition to cleaner energy sources, we must be mindful of the effects on communities who have historically depended on the coal economy,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12). “Looking towards the future, we want to ensure the sites of the current plants are safely cleaned up and restored to protect our environment and residents, while diversifying local business to maintain a strong economic base. This funding will help support those efforts, and the work of the Downriver Community Conference will have a positive impact on our local economy and quality of life. The Downriver communities are a great place to live, raise a family, and enjoy the outdoors, and this grant will help us protect and strengthen them.”

“This $1.6 million Economic Development Grant is a huge win for all of Downriver,” said state Representative Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton). “It is an historic investment that will help us redevelop multiple waterfront sites, work toward a more sustainable economy, reinforce our small business community, and ultimately create more local jobs. I am proud to work with the Downriver Community Conference and the Economic Development Administration to utilize our beautiful waterfront and reimagine Downriver’s future.”

“This grant will bring extraordinary opportunities to our impacted communities — new jobs, new expansion and new industries,” said state Representative Tullio Liberati (D-Allen Park). “While many coal communities are picking up the pieces from the economic fallout of the pandemic, the Downriver Community Conference was granted an opportunity to strengthen our shaken foundation and diversify our local economy. Now that we are moving away from coal as a source of energy, these funds will help to transform outdated sites into new vibrant business opportunities. These funds will help provide a better future for us and our community. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

“The UWUA has advocated for investment in these communities since 2015, and we’re pleased to see that communities impacted by coal-fired power plant closures will finally benefit from U.S. Economic Development Administration funding, said James Slevin, President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “Thank you to Governor Whitmer for her leadership on this. We know this money will go far to foster good, family-supporting jobs and further long-term economic recovery in Southeast Michigan.”

EDA Investment Background

The program invests resources into communities that are undergoing an economic transition after years of relying on the coal industry. It ensures that impacted workers and communities will have new opportunities by investing resources to diversify their economy, ensuring local governments have the resources to continue providing essential services from public school to public safety, and helping transition workers into new, good-paying jobs.

The investment will help the Downriver community redevelop two coal plant sites and establish a new small business program to help diversify the local economy. The federal investment will be matched with $401,514 in local funds.

Energy Transition Impact Project (ETIP) Background 

Communities that have hosted energy facilities face significant issues such as reduced tax base, lost employment, and reduction in services as the energy industry closes older coal plants. To respond to this challenge, Governor Whitmer and Michigan Department of Treasury created the Energy Transition Impact Project (ETIP) to help communities plan for change and thrive when faced with the closure of an energy plant. To date, ETIP has assisted communities with obtaining state and federal resources to develop comprehensive strategies to offset industry decisions to close large energy plants.