Monday, December 15, 2008

Alternative Energy Jobs Coming to Michigan - Hemlock Announces Expansion

I don't know about you, but I don't like the idea of having our state's future in George Bush's hands right now. While I'm hopeful that something will be done to help the automakers, I'm well aware of the fact that the last group of people George "liberated" are now throwing things at him.

We also have found ourselves on the short end of Republican lies about labor and the public's willingness to believe them. Apparently no one has learned the lesson yet - if a Republican's lips are moving, they are lying. You can count on it. On yesterday's Meet the Press, Mitt Romney still babbles the now debunked myth about the UAW and their wages, and calls for the Republican prescription once again - take money away from workers, cut taxes for business, and yet somehow still increase spending, proving once again that "conservatives" are anything but responsible when it comes to the economy. Why anyone still considers Mitt Romney an "authority" on anything is beyond me, but for whatever reason, they do, and they invite him to be on TV to repeat the same nonsense over and over.

Republicans have nothing new to offer. Live it, learn it, now let's move forward and never, ever put ourselves in this position again. How do we do that in Michigan? We diversify this economy as fast as we possibly can - and at this point, the best way to do that is to look at the areas that are growing and get involved in them. So, on this cold and blustery winter day, with the auto industry ax hanging over our head, a long-awaited announcement shows this state one way out of our dilemma.

I have been waiting since last January for this:

Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. today, for the second consecutive year, announced up to a $1 billion expansion at its Saginaw County manufacturing complex, promising 300 full-time positions and the potential of drawing job-producing solar companies to mid-Michigan.

Hemlock Semiconductor is owned by Bay County based Dow Corning Corp. and two Japanese companies. Dow Corning was to announce construction of a new manufacturing facility of its own at the Saginaw site today.

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm was to attend a press conference today at Saginaw Valley State University, where company officials gave details on the most recent part of $2.5 billion in investments at its Saginaw site in the past five years.

We give them the tax and energy cost breaks (we have no choice on that for now), we get the jobs and investment, and most important of all, we can change the perception that we are a "one economy" state. The Saginaw Valley can be the next Silicon Valley when it comes to alternative energy development, drawing more companies to the area.

First come the jobs, and the jobs that support the jobs:

HSC's plans in Thomas Township will bring total employment to more than 1,500 workers when the latest expansion finishes in 2011, Erpelding said. At least 800 to 1,200 construction workers will stay on the site until the work is finished.

Clarksville could get 500 new jobs and up to 900 total in future expansions. The project will employ 1,000 construction workers there for five to seven years. Every manufacturing job, researchers have determined, adds at least 3.5 workers in the service or retail sector.

Eventually more will follow:

All told, the company that first opened in Saginaw County in 1961 could supply 60 percent of the global demand for the product when its plans are complete, Homan said. And company leaders expect more growth.

The Saginaw Valley has evolved into a hotbed of solar growth.

Dow Corning opened a Solar Solutions Application Center in Freeland for research and development in solar cell technology. Buyers from all over the world come to the center for demonstrations of what local engineers and scientists can do to make solar collector materials more efficient.

Evergreen Solar Inc., of Marboro, Mass., is constructing a $55 million silicon wafer technology plant in Midland.

Dow Chemical Co. is making progress on a building and its equipment for a $53.3 million integrated photovoltaics center at its Michigan Operations complex in Midland. The research and development operation will determine whether Dow can profitably manufacture construction materials, shingles and siding for example, that include solar cells to capture sunlight and convert it to useable energy.

And then we don't have to listen to Mitt Romney ever again.

Won't that be nice?

Nothing beats the Republican lie like success. Time for Michigan to fight back against those who want to pigeonhole us - and this is the way we can do it.

More on the Hemlock expansion from the state release.