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Michigan in line for some of 1.3 billion in new federal manufacturing dollars

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Ford could stand to refresh its model lineup, and should invest more in connected vehicles.
Ford Motor Company

A group of 13 counties organized under the name "Advance Michigan," has won a coveted place on a list of communities to get preference for grants to spur U.S. manufacturing.

Advance Michigan, and 12 other groups in other states, will be given extra consideration by the U.S. Commerce Department for projects to boost manufacturing.

The total funding available - $1.3 billion.

Advance Michigan includes counties with strong ties to auto manufacturing, including Wayne, Oakland, Ingham, Genesee, and Washtenaw.

Kristin Dziczek is with the Center for Automotive Research.

She says auto manufacturing technology is changing rapidly - and there's a need to train people in the new technologies - such as new, lighter materials for cars.

"We're going to have to change from banging out steel and making tool and dies for steel, to making them for other materials, which don't behave the way steel does," says Dziczek.

Being on the list only gives Michigan extra points.  Projects are not assured of being funded.

"We can't put in a terrible application and expect to float by," says Dziczek.  "They still have to be strong proposals."

Dziczek says she thinks several factors were in Michigan's favor in getting on the list - among them, a new connected vehicle center run by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute - and a new lightweighting research facility at the University of Michigan.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.