Ferris State University is among the higher education community members and other major employers prepared to invest in and promote Michigan’s fast-growing electric vehicle and mobility sector.
Additionally, Ferris stands with peer higher education institutions and partners sharing in a combined $2.35 million in strategic investments as set forth by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Talent Action Team, which officially announced these efforts during a press conference on the morning of Wednesday, March 1, in Lansing. The state of Michigan has noted that these investments include a budget for The Michigander EV Scholars program and an increase in its capacity to train students to meet EV/mobility occupational needs. Other plans call for a talent development focus that could be attractive for the semiconductor industry.
The Ferris Board of Trustees, at its Friday, Feb. 17 meeting, accepted the university’s approved funding portion amounting to $659,504 for the fiscal year 2023 and up to an estimated $3,297,520 through FY27.
Ferris President Bill Pink could not be more excited about this development for Michigan and for Ferris to play a significant role in the necessary student education and training.
“We appreciate the affirming EV grant funding from the MEDC to our university,” Pink said. “Ferris State University is known for providing relevant and prepared graduates for multiple industries throughout our state. This grant will help solidify us as a preferred education, training and applied research partner for EV battery manufacturers.”
In addition to Ferris, investment peers include Macomb Community College, Schoolcraft College and The Michigander EV Scholars University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Michigan Tech University.
The EV grant will support a new Ferris Center for Applied Battery Production and Testing partnering with key Michigan battery manufacturers, inform the development of new EV certificate programs, and build West Michigan’s reputation for battery knowledge via applied research and industry partnerships. Further, it will help corporate training programs to upskill employees, help Ferris engage K-12 programs to increase the visibility of EV careers via visits to school campuses and increase K-12 student interest and ability in EV-relevant skills via Ferris-hosted events.
The grant also allows hiring a grant director to meet milestones for grant initiatives, including quarterly reporting to MEDC and maintaining relationships to ensure industry alignment with grant initiatives.
Provost Bobby Fleischman is excited about this grant’s possibilities on the academic front as Ferris looks forward to serving communities across Michigan and beyond.
“As an applied research institution, this grant provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to have engaged work between our faculty and students in a cutting-edge, innovative way,” Fleischman said.
In its March 1 release, the MEDC noted that the EV and mobility campaign is one phase of an overall $34 million talent attraction and retention strategy the MEDC is introducing in 2023. The goal is to assist challenged in-state businesses seeking to fill key in-demand and high-growth jobs. In addition, the efforts point toward growing the workforce population over the long run. Kicking off the campaign focuses on in-state retention and recruitment while targeting key out-of-state markets before transitioning to a national campaign begins.
The $34 million is from the $115.6 million allocated to the MEDC in a bipartisan vote last year by the Michigan Legislature to attract business, revitalize communities, and to champion entrepreneurship programs.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has tasked the MEDC Talent Action Team to spear the one-year pilot program that features a public-private partnership to recruit EV and mobility talent in 2023 with 15 major Michigan employers and higher education partners. The partners include Ferris, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Macomb Community College, Schoolcraft College and Michigan Works! agencies across Michigan.
“For generations, Michiganders have stepped up to get the job done by embodying the kind of grit, determination and work ethic needed to keep the world moving forward. As we work to make an electrified future a reality, it’s no surprise that once again, Michigan is being recognized as a leader in shepherding this new evolution,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II said. “We’re ready to build on our proud legacy and automotive heritage here in Michigan to usher in a greener, more sustainable and electrified future in 2023 and beyond. The Michigander EV Scholars program and our historic talent attraction campaign will help get us there and ensure our state continues to keep our foot on the accelerator driving the future of mobility and electrification.”
Information on Michigan’s transportation mobility and electrification global leadership is available at www.michiganbusiness.org/mobility/.