July 2012: Renewable Energy, A Vehicle For Job Creation
Ask the average Michigander to name our state’s greatest period of innovation and growth, and most will suggest the birth of the American automotive industry that began with Henry Ford’s Model T. Thanks to the opportunities present in the renewable energy industry, however, that may someday change.
According to an independent study by the Energy Innovation Business Council, advanced renewable energy manufacturing in Michigan today supports more than 20,700 jobs and generates nearly $5 billion in economic activity a year. That may not be the economic powerhouse that the automotive industry was in its prime, but few people remember that before Henry Ford’s model T made manufacturing cars cheaper, and thus less expensive for the consumer, few other than the wealthy could afford to own one. Right now Michigan’s renewable energy industry is a mixture of large and small firms ranging from corporations with hundreds of employees to small businesses that employ only a handful. These people are the kind of risk takers who make their living producing tools the world needs, on the cutting edge of technology.
Like most cutting edge technologies, the renewable energy industry still accounts for a small percentage of the U.S. manufacturing sector. However, there is a proposal that may be on the ballot come November that could help to take this emerging industry from the cutting edge to the center stage. This proposal would raise Michigan’s renewable energy standard to 25% of our energy generation by 2025. The Energy Innovation Business Council forecasts that if passed, the ballot proposal will create more than 56,000 jobs across Michigan, and generate $10 billion in new economic investment.
There are many in the business community who support this ballot initiative. Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs just announced that 120 businesses have pledged their public support for the proposal, calling it a smart business decision that could mean thousands of new jobs for the state and a move toward the future of manufacturing. The proposal also enjoys bipartisan support from many of Michigan’s politicians. Sadly, Michigan’s utilities do not share in the support. They, and many of their political allies, are spending thousands to prevent raising the renewable energy standard despite polling that shows broad public support, economic analyses that proves feasibility, and the fact that this would put Michigan on track with over 30 other states across the nation.
Joining us this month to talk about the new energy proposal and the debate surrounding it is special guest Steve Linder. Steve is a Partner at Sterling Corporation, a premier Republican communications firm that is highly successful in the arena of political and issue-based campaigns. He has a unique understanding of voter attitudes and has been able to produce big victories for Sterling clients over the years. Steve will help to shed light on why the business community and many politicians on both sides of the aisle are throwing their full support behind the proposal. He will also help to explain the utilities’ opposition to a proposal that could revolutionize their industry and create thousands of new Michigan jobs.
Tune in to 89.1 WEMU at 7:40 AM on Friday, July 6 to join us for this important discussion with Steve Linder of Sterling Corporation on the new renewable energy proposal.