Midwest Industrial Cities Re-emerge as Clean Energy Centers

Utilizing skilled labor forces, existing manufacturing facilities and generous public incentives, Michigan and Ohio are becoming solar power leaders.
December 2, 2010, 10am PST | Lynn Vande Stouwe
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Cities like Dupont, Ohio and Midland, Michigan are adding hundreds of jobs thanks to the region's burgeoning solar industry, says Keith Schnieder. Public funding has played a key role in development. Over the past three years, Michigan has generated $4.1 billion in public and private investment in the state's solar manufacturing industry by leveraging a combination of state incentives, tax credits and additional public aid. The state now ranks fourth in the country for solar sector jobs, behind only California, Pennsylvania and Texas.

A ready supply of unemployed and underemployed skilled manufacturing workers has also been part of the industry's success, as has existing hard infrastructure, writes Schnieder:

"The upper Midwest has a history of advanced manufacturing, and machined parts and many of the basic materials of photovoltaic panels - polycrystalline in central Michigan, glass in the Toledo region, plastic films in Ohio - were already being made in the region. Both states have an abundance of shuttered plants that can be readily converted to new uses and are close to highway, rail and shipping supply lines in the center of the country."

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Published on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 in The New York Times
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