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Published: Thursday, 8/6/2009

Midwest rebound pledged

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WAKARUSA, Ind. - Promising new jobs and money, President Obama yesterday told a hurting Midwestern region that its recovery will be like America's: tough but certain.

"Even in the hardest times, against the toughest odds, we have never surrendered," Mr. Obama told a crowd on the factory floor of Monaco RV, whose previous owner went bankrupt. "We don't give up. We don't surrender our fates to chance. We have always endured."

The loudest applause though, occurred when Mr. Obama said the recreational vehicle company's new owner, Navistar International Corp., had won a $39 million grant to build 400 battery-electric trucks.

That grant means work in an RV-heavy region crushed by the recession, where unemployment has jumped so high so fast that Mr. Obama called it "astonishing."

Wakarusa is about 150 miles west of Toledo.

Mr. Obama announced the awarding of $2.4 billion in grants toward the production of electric and hybrid cars, part of the stimulus plan.

He dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to Michigan and other Cabinet emissaries to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Florida to help spread the news and the wealth.

All of those states, and Indiana, are pivotal electoral states.

Mr. Biden told an audience of about 300 in Detroit yesterday that the United States has an opportunity to help build a new foundation for the economy through the $2.4 billion in federal grants to develop next-generation electric vehicles and batteries.

Michigan is garnering more than $1 billion and is the largest recipient of the grants.

Mr. Biden said the nation needs to build on the city's rich automotive past to help the state and national economic recovery.

"We have a tremendous opportunity here, right here in Detroit, to invest in our vehicle fleet, shifting toward electrification," he said.

Mr. Biden spoke on a stage outside NextEnergy, a nonprofit that works with businesses on research involving alternative and renewable energy.

The Obama Administration said 11 Michigan manufacturers and research facilities will receive grants. Forty-eight projects in 25 states will create or retain tens of thousands of jobs.

Battery makers, along with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC, and Dow Chemical Co., are receiving grants.

The Detroit Three automakers will receive more than $400 million to manufacture thousands of advanced hybrid and electric vehicles as well as batteries and electric cars.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm said an independent analysis performed by Michigan State University estimates that if the primary companies and facilities who received grants are successful in their development plans, they could create about 30,000 jobs by 2020 - 6,800 within 1 1/2 years.

Ms. Granholm said the announcement creates "a whole new sector within the auto industry" that will be established in Michigan.



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