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Solar panel plant builds next to semiconductor facility

Corning will build a $900M solar panel factory in Richland Township in Saginaw County. The project was announced today and comes about as the result of nearly $100M in incentives. According to the state’s announcement, the company will locate the new facility next to Hemlock Semiconductor. The project will create 1,100 new jobs.

So, it seems as though Richland Township is creating a technology manufacturing nexus that is generating thousands of new jobs. It’s not an accident that Corning chose to locate a nearly $1B facility right next to a semiconductor fab.

The demand for domestic semiconductor production has never been higher and is likely to continue indefinitely. The auto industry has demonstrated an ongoing demand for semiconductors, associated with both conventional and electric vehicles. It’s an unprecedented opportunity for jobs and economic growth.

Unfortunately, Washtenaw County doesn’t have the workforce to attract semiconductor firms or firms that will generate a high demand for semiconductor production. It doesn’t have to be this way; if WCC had spent a fraction of the money on building a clean room that it spent on building a quasi-private health club, Washtenaw County might be the cornerstone of Michigan’s semiconductor industry.

Time and time again, we have seen the WCC administration waste money on countless things that return no value to the college or the community. We have also seen the WCC Board of Trustees sign off on each and every bad idea the administration generates.

Among these ideas are a hotel and convention center on WCC’s campus; retail spaces in the WCC parking lot; an “Advanced Transportation Center” that doesn’t appear to have any academic value; and a de minimis approach to maintenance funding that will cost the Washtenaw County taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in undone maintenance in the coming years.

Washtenaw County could be a semiconductor center if only…

The college’s ongoing fascination with certificate programs will subject the majority of its programs to the Biden Administration’s new Gainful Employment rules. And the WCC administration now has enough Vice Presidents to fill a 12-month wall calendar. (That might be an interesting fundraiser for the Foundation.)

Add to that list the President’s compensation package and you will find enormous expenditures that have produced virtually no return on our substantial investment. The Board asks no questions, demands neither performance nor accountability, and signs off on whatever the Administration puts in front of it.

Imagine where Washtenaw County might be if the WCC Board of Trustees did the work they were elected to do.

Photo Credit: albyantoniazzi , via Flickr