If jobs are any measure, 14 Michigan "green" companies that were awarded $34.5 million in taxpayer funded grants and loans aren't generating much heat.
According to the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the companies have reported a total of 183 jobs. While a final report will not be issued until June, calls and emails to the companies indicate the total number will not be much higher.
The state awarded the grants and loans in 2009 and 2010 under its Clean Energy Advanced Manufacturing Program. The money came from federal stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The federal government handed out a total of $3.1 billion for state energy programs, of which Michigan got $82 million.
Michigan Energy Office Manager Robert Jackson defends the program by saying it was not designed to create jobs but to help established manufacturers retool for the future economy, namely alternative energy. Of the 14 companies on the list, the majority are in the wind turbine business.
Employment, however, was front and center when the awards from this stimulus program were announced.
“The awards being made today will create good jobs,” U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, said in a June 2010 press release.
Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm devoted one of her radio addresses to the subject, even mentioning a specific jobs number for one of the award recipients, Ventower Industries of Monroe. Ventower received a $2.25 million grant and more than $1.56 million in government-backed loans. Gov. Granholm said the company was projected to create 130 direct jobs and 40 spin-off jobs.
Ventower, which makes wind turbine towers, currently employs 49.
Another company, Astraeus Wind Energy Inc. of Eaton Rapids, got a $7 million grant and a loan of $1.54 million and has created 11 jobs. If no other workers are hired, those jobs were created at a cost of $776,364 each.