Governor Whitmer's inaugural address indicates support for bringing manufacturing supply chains back home

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-02 18:18:02-05

NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) — If you ask Michiganders what they want leaders to prioritize, you will get a variety of answers.

The economy, schools, roads, gun laws and the environment are just a few of the regular responses.

‘Equality when it comes to women, when it comes to children, when it comes to different races,” said Macey Cash, a Detroit resident.

“New jobs and bringing jobs back to the state,” said Ahmad Jawad, a Beverly Hills resident.

The governor covered much of it during her inaugural address, talking about how fighting climate change could address inequality and improve the economy.

“Let’s bring supply chains home to Michigan from China and become the epicenter of innovation from clean energy to batteries to chips,” she said.

That was a message that stuck out to Mujeeb Ijaz, Founder & CEO of Our Next Energy (ONE). In his company’s lobby in Novi, he has a battery on display that was made more than 100 years ago. It is the type of battery that powered a 1910 Baker electric vehicle to go more than 200 miles on a charge. He says he hopes this is a sign the government will be doing more to help support building the industry in the state.

“This is a moment in our history where I think our government really is working together. And this doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican, you want to see electrification here in the US and I am proud to say Michigan is where we decided to do it,” said Ijaz.

His team has developed prototype batteries made with minerals found in abundance in North America, for example using iron. He says the company did this because the pandemic revealed weaknesses in a globalized supply chain that impact not just the economy, but national security.

The governor’s speech gives him hope policy will help.

“It is time to bring our supply chain home,” said Ijaz.

ONE announced a $1 .6 billion investment in a Van Buren Battery cell factory aiming to power commercial vehicles. It is expected to begin production in 2023.

As we spoke to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about their priorities we heard while there are differences in the details, both want to see government programs that result in more such investments.

“Ensuring that we are creating jobs with that effort,” said State Rep Abraham Aiyash, D-Majority Floor Leader.

“Anything that can attract new employees into the state of Michigan is an advantage that deserves serious consideration,” said State Rep Mark Tisdel, R-District 45.