Is alternative energy the proverbial “light at the end of the end of the tunnel” for Michigan’s economic woes?
While perhaps not the sole answer, a lot of people — including Gov. Jennifer Granholm — have connected the dots and believe Michigan can play an important role in developing new technology in the energy world. And, with a talented workforce and vacant manufacturing infrastructure in place, much of that new technology could be built here as well.
One need look no further than the M-32 corridor between Gaylord and Alpena to see perhaps a glimpse into that future. Two years ago Georgia Pacific closed its doors in Gaylord, leaving 200 workers out of work. One year ago Thunder Bay Manufacturing in Alpena closed its doors as well, impacting nearly 100 employees. Market conditions in both instances forced the industries to close down, although neither wanted to.
Today the Georgia Pacific plant is looking to reopen with three new wood-related industries a part of the complex, including a wood pellet energy facility. Initially 160 people are looking to be hired, with more to follow soon after.
Likewise in Alpena the Thunder Bay Manufacturing Co. has reopened as ATI Casting and will be involved in manufacturing wind turbine components. Initially 69 workers will be employed, with the plan for more in the future.
Those are just two examples of this new and emerging technology and how already it is at play in revitalizing the region’s economy.
Today we begin an extensive look into the pros and cons associated with alternative energy, and what other effects it might have for all of us. We hope by this time next week you’ll have a new appreciation and understanding of this interesting and innovative emerging technology.