However, even as General Motors and Chrysler reportedly talkabout a possible merger, Granholm said in a speech, during theopening the property, that plants that explore new automotivetechnologies still play on the natural strength of the Detroitarea. "We're still bullish on our future," she said in the speech."We have $10 billion invested in research and development relatedto the next vehicle and next engine. We know the vehicle as aproduct evolution is going to happen in Michigan." She was also onhand three weeks ago in Flint, MI when General Motors unveiled its$836-million expansion plan to product low-mileage cars such as theChevy Volt.

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The new Toyota Technical Center, at more than 500,000 sf here on70 acres, is an offshoot of the 31-year-old Toyota MotorEngineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. campus a fewminutes north in Ann Arbor, MI. The four-story engineering centerwill also have the company's first collision-safety testingfacility outside of Japan, and will employ 400 people by the end of2010. The two facilities will have about 1,100 employees by 2010.The company, which sold 8.7 million vehicles in 2007, is based inAichi, Japan.

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Toyota was provided almost $40 million in incentives for the newplant, and the state pushed through the $11-million sale of theformer psychiatric hospital property for the facility. Officialswith the automaker said at the opening that the campus reinforcesthe company's long-term commitment to the state. "We realize allautomakers are going through some challenging times right now, andthey're probably going to last a little longer," said BruceBrownlee, senior executive administrator at the new center. "Wethink it's really important to celebrate the growth in Michigan. Weare also hopeful for the future here."

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