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Granholm discusses diversity and future of Michigan

Mike Hicks
Issue date: 4/21/09 Section: News

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Governor Jennifer Granholm spoke before a large gathering of students Thursday morning at the University of Michigan - Dearborn. Presented by the Michigan African American Student Network as part of the University's Media Diversity & Social Change Lecture Series, Granholm answered questions from moderator Bankole Thompson, Senior Editor of the Michigan Chronicle, and students while discussing the current state of the economic crisis, her attempts to diversify the Michigan job market, and encouraging students to stay in Michigan.

"The reason people are leaving Michigan is because we have shed jobs," Granholm said, noting that since 2000 the state has lost more than 600,000 jobs. The key to economic recovery, she said, is diversifying employment opportunities.

"We have been defined by one industry. Dearborn was established by Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company," she said. "We need to diversify into areas that are innate to us. We have to assess our strengths and move policy in that direction.

"Although the auto industry is struggling in its current state, the fact that it still exists in Michigan allows the new electric auto industry to emerge from the ashes of the old, and lead the nation in energy independence. On April 14, four companies were granted generous tax credits to produce electric automotive batteries. In a move to support the initiative launched by President Barack Obama to shift this country towards energy independence, Granholm said it was important that we, "don't exchange our reliance on foreign oil for foreign batteries.

"The Great Lakes also provides another avenue in developing technologies for energy independence through wave power, which is currently being researched at U of M Ann Arbor's Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. The goal is to be able to generate clean, renewable power from the slow-moving currents of the lakes.

"Nobody has a magic wand," to fix the current state of Michigan's economy, Granholm said. Diversifying the state's economy is a long-term process, and, "You have to set a course and stay on it.

"The Governor is optimistic about the future for Michigan, having taken steps to move the state towards new industries, such as alternative and renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, and working with Homeland Security and the Defense Department to create new avenues of employment. On Tuesday, Allen Park formally unveiled its plans to be home to Unity Studios, a media production facility, signaling the biggest success of Granholm's film tax credits, which are the most aggressive in the nation.

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