DEARBORN, MI – Ford’s Rouge Plant in Dearborn is the latest site for a new version of vocational training. A Michigan Technology Education Center is being built at the plant. It will be run by Henry Ford Community College, and will partner with Ford and the United Auto Workers to provide trained workers for the automaker.

Ford donated six acres for the new center. It will be 30,000-sf, and is being built with a $5 million state economic development grant. Completion is set for 2002. “The center will help respond to Gov. John Engler’s initiative to provide training opportunities to meet the job demand in highly skilled, technical areas,” said Randall Miller, a vice president of the college. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for Dearborn.”

The move is also believed to be an effort to create more high-tech businesses in the Southeast Michigan area, so that the changes and fluxes of the automotive companies do not control the state’s economy. Examples include Automation Alley, a conglomerate of businesses brought together for marketing, job promotion and earning power in the Auburn Hills-Pontiac-Rochester area; and the string of high-tech manufacturing facilities going up around Ann Arbor. Local officials hope to create a second “Silicon Valley.”

The Dearborn project, known as M-TEC, is the second facility under construction in Michigan. The first is being built in Warren at the Warren Commerce Center, a few miles from the General Motors Tech center. The Macomb County project, at 36,000-sf and costing $7.5 million, is being run by Macomb Community College. A total of 18 M-TEC centers will be built throughout Michigan. Schools looking to build facilities include Kellogg, Lansing and Oakland community colleges, and the communities of Escanaba and Grand Rapids.

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