Officials in Michigan this week backed an initial round of state funding to house a self-driving vehicle testing facility on the site of a shuttered General Motors powertrain factory.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation on Tuesday announced the Michigan Strategic Fund's approval of a nearly $3 million performance-based grant for the American Center for Mobility.
The ACM — which includes state government, business groups and the University of Michigan — is intended to develop advanced mobility vehicle safety systems with test tracks and road simulators at the former Willow Run facility in Ypsilanti.
The Associated Press reports that the project would feature a high-speed test loop along with rural, suburban and urban scenarios.
The center will require an overall total of $79 million. Although officials plan to seek federal funding to help offset that cost, the AP reports that ACM will seek another $17 million from the state.
The grant approved this week will contribute to property acquisition, environmental and consulting costs and startup support.
The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved equity investment in state funds transferred to the current property owners. MEDC said that officials would pursue closing on the Willow Run site "in the coming months."
Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement that the center would maintain Michigan's auto industry leadership and help create new jobs.
"Michigan is proud of its auto heritage, but our goal is to be the leader in this industry for generations to come,” Snyder said. “We need to stay on the cutting edge of technology connected with our vehicles."
Willow Run opened in 1942 as a Ford-owned factory producing B-24 bombers during World War II. GM purchased the plant in 1953 and its workers made transmissions for more than five decades. The automaker closed the factory in 2010.