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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Lily Gouin
Lily Gouin
Assistant Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Lily Gouin I am in my third year here at NMU. I am from Appleton, WI majoring in communications and double minoring in multimedia journalism and public relations. In my free time, I like...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

NMU CARES — President Brock Tessman shares his feelings on the universitys new CARE Team. Photo Courtesy of Northern Michigan University
Letter to the Editor — Our New CARE Team
Brock TessmanFebruary 23, 2024

Lithium industry will help Michigan recover

In a state that’s lost over 800,000 jobs in the past decade, any announcement of increasing job growth sounds like an empty promise. We’ve heard the rhetoric before, and I don’t think I’m alone in being skeptical of such plans.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, in collaboration with the federal government, is working to bring lithium battery companies to Michigan. These batteries are used in laptops, cell phones and electric cars. Sixteen new companies have opened or are expected to open factories in Michigan in the coming years, bringing with them 62,000 jobs.

A few weeks ago, Granholm came to NMU to give her last speech here as governor. The news editor, James Dyer, and I went to the speech in the Great Lakes Rooms. He went with a camera, a notebook and a recorder to write a short article on the speech. I went because I was curious.

The speech focused on the state’s economy. Granholm gave an overview of her administration’s time in Lansing. Specifically, she discussed her attempts to diversify Michigan’s economy.

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When she began talking about lithium batteries, I listened very closely. When she finished her speech, I felt hope for Michigan for the first time in a long time.

Yet, in an age where everyone uses laptops and cell phones practically every minute of every day, lithium batteries are invaluable. It seems like there’s always some new and better technology right around the corner and it’s a safe bet lithium batteries are going to be powering them.

General Motors is expected to unveil its 2011 Volt in November, an electric car that will run on lithium ion batteries. With federal incentives for American automakers to begin and keep creating electric cars, the Volt will probably just be the beginning. It seems as though this lithium battery initiative will be the thing to save the state.

It’s hard for the United States to compete in a global economy. When a company can pay Mexican workers a few dollars an hour to do the same job an American would do for minimum wage, good businessmen know exactly where they’re going to do business. Yet somehow, Granholm was able to convince these factories to come here.

Granholm told the story of Greenville, a small town that lost its main employer in 2006. The economy of the town rested upon an Electrolux refrigerator facility that decided to leave Michigan for Mexico in order to pay their workers cheaper wages. Granholm spoke of how efforts were made to keep the company in the state, offering a variety of incentives for the company to stay, but it left anyway.

When Michigan passed energy legislation 2008, investing in companies which provided clean energy technology, such as lithium ion batteries or solar and wind power, Greenville embraced the effort. Eight hundred jobs were created when a solar energy company  came to the town. Granholm used this story to show what could happen state-wide or even nationally if these alternative energy initiatives are embraced.

President Barack Obama joined Granholm on July 15 in Holland to celebrate the construction of a new lithium battery cell plant.

The facility, owned by Compact Power, is expected to create 440 direct jobs and more than 800 spin-off jobs in West Michigan by 2015. The facility was one of 13 Michigan-based projects awarded more than $1.35 billion in Recovery Act funding to support advanced battery and electric vehicle development.

I have to admit, I didn’t vote for Granholm. In 2006, I told everyone who listened that Dick Devos was the best guy for the governorship. But when I listened to Granholm’s speech, I realized I was wrong. Granholm has done everything she can and more.

These lithium batteries are going to be great for Michigan. Granholm said in her speech that these batteries are the future and the more I look into it, the more I believe her.

Granholm spent much of her speech discussing the importance of a diversified economy in Michigan, an effort she’s been trying to accomplish for years.

And if lithium batteries are just one idea among the many ideas this state can come up with, then I’m looking forward to the future, instead of dreading it. Maybe we’re not as far from recovery as it seems.

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