Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Crazy Idea #3 - The Green Belt

(Picture of a real Tasmanian Devil. Is it related? Not really. It is cute though)

One of the joys of being a member of "new media" in the form of blogging is that I can essentially steal the work of others as long as I provide the appropriate link to that information and credit the source. Ta-da! Post for the day completed. How does someone actually report on news that the individual actually discovers? I have no idea. I also can not claim that this is my crazy idea or that it is even that crazy, but if I said something like "solar panels are the devil's children" then maybe, just maybe, I can make it crazy enough to be my own.

On that note, here is a very interesting and pertinent article from Fortune magazine regarding Midwest manufacturing and the slow but noticeable shift into environmentally-forward products that do not include cars. These are the types of industries in which the Midwest must continue to actively expand to attract investment, develop jobs, and transition away from the tired "Rust Belt" moniker with which we are stricken. Perhaps more importantly, I want you to be aware that many of these industries also have current significant operations in the Midwest and also in Michigan. According to the article, "Thin-film solar company Energy Conversion Devices, meanwhile, operates three factories in Michigan and is currently doubling the production capacity of one of its plants." These are small advancements to diversify Michigan's economy and the way that people view Michigan's economy, but they are moves in the right direction nonetheless.

The next wave of industrial and corporate innovation is the "green tech" industry, and Michigan, partly because of its unfortunately high unemployment rate, is ideally positioned to fill this need with its large and highly motivated workforce. Somehow, we have to continue to latch on to these types of companies at an accelerated rate to transition the Midwest from the Rust Belt to the Green Belt. With our unparalleled manufacturing background and willingness to take less than the going rate just to get to work, it is not out of the realm of possibility for us to take first place in this race. Not only will our people be working, but they will be doing work that could be of substantial benefit to the environment - something for which we have certainly not been previously credited. This is not a pipe dream. The seeds for this kind of work and the development of these industries in-state are already planted. Now we have to figure out how to take it to the next level.

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