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Last updated 5:16PM ET
February 25, 2021
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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
Alternative Energy Cluster
(2007-08-29)
(wgvu) - Alternative energy continues to stir interest nationwide, and the West
Michigan Stra tegic Alliance would like to know exactly what future it
has in this region and what role manufacturers could play in that
industry.

WMSA a few weeks ago began an analysis on the possibility of forming an
alternative-energy cluster in western Michigan and hired consultant Rich
Polich, founder of Energy Options and Solutions in Ann Arbor, to conduct
a study examining that. Polich's charge is to analyze the
manufacturing base in Allegan, Barry, Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Ionia and
Newaygo Counties.

We all know alternative energy is becoming an issue of much greater
impact, particularly as oil hits $80 a barrel, said Greg Northrup,
president of the WMSA.

The effort aims to understand which alternative-energy technologies
have the greatest potential in the next three to five years, then how to
commercialize that potential in western Michigan, he said.

The alliance formed a technical group of educators, environmental
experts and economic development professionals in the region to assist
in the effort. William Stough, president of Sustainable Research Group
in Grand Rapids, chairs that team.

What (Polich) has been asked to do is evaluate some 2,000
manufacturers located in the region and find out what the capabilities
are for manufacturing alternative-energy components wind, solar,
biofuel, everything, Stough said.

Then we'll have a road map of what the region can do and, just as
importantly, what the gaps are, what we can't do.

Assessing the abilities of the region's manufacturers to supply
alternative-energy companies could help retain businesses here and
attract new ones, Stough said.

The group intends to focus on electricity-generating technologies,
rather than liquid fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, he added.

The first step in conducting the analysis is finding out what
manufacturers already are doing to supply the alternative-energy
industry, Stough said.

The group is urging manufacturers to contact Polich at rpolich@umich.
edu.

WMSA hopes to complete the study, which is funded by an EPA Sustainable
Manufacturing grant, by Nov. 30.
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