LANSING, Mich.—As President Biden sought to salvage his plans to overhaul America's infrastructure, he made an appearance in Michigan, a state where the dilapidated condition of roads remains a long-standing political and economic concern.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeared alongside Biden, touting the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and larger $3.5 trillion package Congress is now considering. At the same time, she's moving forward with her own plans to ready Michigan for an electric vehicle era.
Whitmer has rolled out a series of EV-related initiatives over the past month intended to bolster charging networks around the state and Midwest region as well as spur job growth in the transportation-technology sector.
"Like every other state in the nation, we have underinvested in maintaining infrastructure and supporting infrastructure that will actually foster and support advanced mobility," Whitmer said during an appearance on a recent "Shift" mobility podcast.
Among Michigan's endeavors: Whitmer wants charging stations installed at state parks, campgrounds, lighthouses and other lake area attractions that will allow EV owners to drive a "Great Lakes Circuit." Michigan wants to gird businesses that depend on tourists from places such as Chicago and Milwaukee, who might not otherwise access the state's traditional tourist areas with EVs.
Whitmer also signed a memorandum of understanding with four other Midwestern governors to create the Regional Electric Vehicle Midwest Coalition to accelerate the installation of chargers along key corridors in the region. Also, she rolled out a pilot project to explore inductive charging equipment installed in roadways and a separate program to ensure Michigan's work force is trained for EV-related jobs.
In late September, the state watched as Ford Motor Co. opted to create 11,000 jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee with major EV-related investments. Whitmer addressed concerns that Michigan is ill-equipped to compete for such large-scale projects.
"We do need, I think, as a state leader, additional tools so that we can prepare sites," she said. "We have not traditionally had as many tools as other states, and that's why we're going to press forward to make sure that people know Michigan is open for business."