I normally try to keep my posts to a national scale, but permit me if you will to talk about a local issue. I live in Michigan, a state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation (by a massive margin of 3% over the 2nd worst.) Our state’s economy has traditionally been supported by the auto industry, but with the economic down-turn, car manufacture has slowed to a crawl, at least the car manufacturing that hadn’t already been shipped out of state or to Mexico. 15% of our population is unemployed including, yes, me. The ISP I had worked for for the past six years eliminated my job due to financial reasons. We are hurting as a state and no one seems to be taking any steps to solve the problem. But I have a dream.
With all the talk of green jobs being created, I wonder why can’t Michigan do that? We have massive manufacturing experience, and just as in World War I and II where we moved from making cars to making tanks and aircraft, why can’t we move from manufacturing cars to manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines? I would love to see Michigan become the leading manufacturer of those technologies as well as research into making them more efficient. On the west coast of Michigan, around the Holland area, we have a massive population of dutch people. Why don’t we tap into that heritage and build a wind-farm in Lake Michigan? Put it off shore within sight of the beaches and it would be a tourist draw. Especially if you arranged them artistically. If Lansing passed a law mandating that any turbines installed in Michigan be manufactured in Michigan and gave tax breaks to companies who moved their manufacturing base to Michigan we can get there. (The income tax on the newly employed would bring in way more money to the state than will be lost from the tax breaks you give to the companies, especially the new ones we bring to the state. It would certainly be better than the nothing we are getting from companies who are not creating jobs here currently.)
As well as wind power, we should also become a leader in Solar energy. Michigan is not known for it’s year-round sunshine (Michigan winters give rival Seattle a run for it’s money on the title of “The place where the sun don’t shine.”) but if we make them affordable enough via large-scale manufacturing (more jobs), we could see a majority of houses have them installed on their roofs. If we can make enough houses self-sufficient we could transform our energy companies from energy producers to energy brokers. If a house generates more electricity than they need, the rest goes back to the grid and that home owner gets a check at the end of the month. The energy company can turn around and sell that energy to businesses and homes with higher energy needs.
These are two simple ideas that could help get Michigan back on track. It would be a massive undertaking, and I’m not sure even where to start, but I’d like to see this become a reality. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any suggestions on how to make this a reality or if you have any other ideas on how to get Michigan back on track.