Mackinac Island — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration touted plans Wednesday to develop a road trip route for electric vehicle owners along Lake Michigan, as part of an initiative to build on the state’s history of auto manufacturing.
Whitmer unveiled the details of the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit during a press conference at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. The idea, which will begin with a feasibility study this year, is to set up charging infrastructure along a route that will connect the shoreline, attractions, light houses, parks and local businesses.
The governor said it will be “the best new road trip for electric vehicle owners in America.”
“The circuit is going to entice residents and travelers to explore our incredible coastal communities and amenities while using clean energy, cutting pollution and helping to protect our air and water,” she said.
Grants to install the charging infrastructure will be provided through a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy program with $1.25 million in funding initially available, according to the governor’s office.
The Wednesday announcement is part of a focus by the Whitmer administration on making the state a leader in electric vehicle manufacturing. The governor also unveiled plans to create academies to help boost the state’s workforce for the jobs that will be created as more customers buy electric cars and trucks.
The state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity is looking to partner with three to five organizations for the academies, amounting to an investment of up to $5 million, the governor’s office said.
“Michigan is serving notice,” said Quentin Messer, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “We’ve never gone anywhere. And the fear should be in the hearts of 49 other states and the Canadian provinces.”
The Michigan Revolution for Electrification of Vehicles Academy or Academies will work directly with employers to ensure the state has the right kinds of programs and resources to fill future talent gaps “in the mobility and electrification industry,” Whitmer’s office said.
The work will include determining projected job openings, identifying hiring requirements, “upskilling” or adding skills for current workers, and identifying training opportunities for job seekers interested in industry, the office added.
A day earlier during an appearance at the Motor Bella in Pontiac, Whitmer announced plans for a one-mile stretch of roadway that would be electrified so vehicles could charge while being driven.
Jeff Donofrio, CEO of the Business Leaders for Michigan, said the state is undergoing an economic shift in how it does businesses and the vehicles it produces.
“We’ve got to win that transition,” Donofrio said.
Staff Writer Kalea Hall contributed.