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DETROIT-A new 250,000-sf facility known as NextEnergy will be built at the University Research and Technology Park owned by Wayne State University. NextEnergy is a research and development initiative that will bring researchers to the area to find alternative fuel resources.

A new Alternative Energy Renaissance Zone, which would provide tax credits, has been created for the facility, says WSU President Irvin D. Reid.

“NextEnergy is an aggressive approach to ensuring that Michigan becomes a global leader in alternative energy technologies,” he adds. “It will bring together great academic minds, entrepreneurs, and businesses in a cluster of innovation that will lead the nation.”

The NextEnergy Center was originally to be located in York Township in Washtenaw County. However, because of the costs associated with providing infrastructure to the York Township site, the need to open the center quickly to meet market demand and the favorable conditions of the tax incentives in Detroit, the decision was made to change the center’s location.

“The city of Detroit had expressed the strongest interest in NextEnergy of any location in Michigan since it was first announced in the spring,” says Doug Rothwell, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “When it became apparent that local challenges would not allow us to open the NextEnergy Center in a timely fashion in York Township, Wayne State University and the city of Detroit offered an even stronger partnership opportunity.”

Major components of the NextEnergy plan include the new facility, which will house offices, education and meeting space, research and development, product displays, labs and business accelerator services.

Also, there will be many tax incentives and business attraction efforts to bring new development to assist with the research, manufacturing and marketing.

Reid says the new facility is an important step toward lessening the US’ reliance on foreign oil.

“The continued reliance on non-renewable energy sources increases security risks to the nation, threatens our mobile lifestyle, degrades our environment and hurts our economy,” Reid says.

He adds funding for many of these components has already been allocated. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. executive committee has approved a $52.5-million three-year commitment to the NextEnergy Initiative. The Michigan Public Service Commission has awarded $4.2 million for a micro-grid demonstration project, which will power the NextEnergy Center.

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