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American Center for Mobility a catalyst for global automotive leadership

Grant facilitates acquisition of Willow Run site WATCH VIDEO  

Willow Run Plan
“We’ve made great progress in Michigan, and we need to continue working to boost investment in our state and create more and better jobs,” MEDC CEO Steve Arwood said. “Providing start-up funds for the new American Center for Mobility will fuel new economic activity across Michigan and retain our position as the proving grounds for automotive innovations.”

Funding for the American Center for Mobility – a project intended to secure Michigan’s future as the global leader of the automotive industry – was approved March 22 by the Michigan Strategic Fund. 

MSF approved a $2,999,900 million performance-based grant and $100 equity investment in funds transferred from the Michigan Business Development Program to the Willow Run Arsenal of Democracy Landholdings Limited Partnership.

“Michigan is proud of its auto heritage, but our goal is to be the leader in this industry for generations to come,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “We need to stay on the cutting edge of technology connected with our vehicles. The approval of start-up funds for the American Center for Mobility will help keep Michigan the global leader and continue to create more and better jobs in a thriving automotive industry.

The grant request is to facilitate environmental, consulting, and other professional due diligence toward the property acquisition, and to provide start-up support for the American Center for Mobility. The Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township where B-24 bombers were made during World War II will become a national-scale advanced automotive testing and product development center that can accommodate the broad needs of industry and government, while providing room to grow and adapt as technology dictates.

The center will focus on testing, verification and certification of connected and automated vehicles, which will complement current testing capabilities at MCity, a simulated urban and suburban environment for testing connected and automated vehicles that was built on a 32-acre site at the University of Michigan and opened in July 2015.

Last week, the nonprofit organization and board of directors was formed to handle the operations of the American Center for Mobility and John M. Maddox was appointed as chief executive officer. 

Founding board members include Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan; Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK; Jon Kinsey, assistant vice president for research at U-M, and U-M Mobility Transformation Center Director Huei Peng. 

"This start-up funding is a critical step toward realizing our vision of a state-of-the art facility for large-scale testing of advanced mobility vehicles," said Maddox, who also holds a partial appointment with U-M's Mobility Transformation Center, which operates Mcity. "Our focus is on accelerating the development of voluntary vehicle standards that must be in place before we'll see connected and automated vehicles on the road in numbers large enough to dramatically improve safety, energy use and mobility."

The American Center for Mobility is a joint initiative among the State of Michigan – including the Michigan Department of Transportation and MEDC, the University of MichiganBusiness Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK. The board of directors includes representatives from the university, BLM, SPARK, which initiated the project and will play a key role in economic development tied to the center. Automotive industry and community advisory boards will also be established. The LP will continue to work with RACER Trust to pursue closing on the property in the coming months. 

“We’ve made great progress in Michigan, and we need to continue working to boost investment in our state and create more and better jobs,” MEDC CEO Steve Arwood said. “Providing start-up funds for the new American Center for Mobility will fuel new economic activity across Michigan and retain our position as the proving grounds for automotive innovations.” 

Pure Michigan is a brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy. 

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit MichiganBusiness.org. For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit michigan.org. Michigan residents interested in seeking employment with any of Michigan’s growing companies should check mitalent.org, where more than 98,000 jobs are currently available in a variety of industries. 

Related stories:

"State formalizes partnership in Willow Run driverless car project with $3 million grant" -- Crain's Detroit Business, March 22, 2016

"$3M grant approved for planned connected vehicle facility at former GM plant" -- Mlive.com, March 22, 2016

"John Maddox named CEO of American Center for Mobility" -- Detroit Free Press, March 18, 2016

"Riveting opportunity to redefine global auto industry" -- MEDC News Room, February 4, 2016 

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