State and local partners announce grant awards and resources for continued growth
LANSING, Mich. – Thursday, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II announced a new grant program and strategic collaboration that will position Michigan as the leading state for outdoor recreation innovation, vehicle technology, and sustainability. As part of the launch, three companies have been selected to receive grant funding that will support the modernization of the state’s mobility offerings and its massive outdoor recreation industry as it transitions to more electric and technology-enabled vehicles.
“The outdoor recreation sector was worth $10.8 billion to the state’s economy in 2021, providing more than 100,000 direct jobs, sparking entrepreneurship, and providing opportunities to our designers, engineers, and suppliers in every corner of Michigan,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. “Supporting innovative companies that modernize and enhance outdoor recreation vehicles and experiences is not only an investment in economic growth but also in the preservation and enjoyment of our natural landscapes. By fostering this innovation, we can ensure a sustainable and thriving future for the outdoor recreation industry, creating opportunities for local communities, promoting environmental stewardship, and attracting investment and talent from around the country.”
Outdoor recreation is known for playing an important role in Michiganders’ quality of life, leisure time, and health – but it is also playing an increasingly important role in the creation of jobs, attraction of investments, and the economic revitalization of communities. To help make Michigan’s outdoor spaces more sustainable, Polaris, Electric Outdoors, and Snowbotix will receive $1,225,000 in total funding from Michigan’s new grant program – the Mobility Public-Private Partnership & Programming (MP4) Grant – designed to support the advancement of partnerships and programs that will help further evolve Michigan’s statewide mobility ecosystem.
These three companies will be funded to deploy unique and first-of-their-kind outdoor recreation mobility solutions:
- Polaris Inc. (NYSE: PII), the global leader in powersports, will receive $700,000 to establish a first-of-its-kind network of charging stations for electric off-road vehicles (e-ORV). The integrated network of multi-modal EV charging infrastructure will be available within a public off-road vehicle trail system, starting in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Starting next year, Hamilton’s North Coast Adventures, a Polaris Adventures Outfitter in Ontonagon, Mich., will also operate a fleet of all-electric Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic off-road vehicles as a part of its rental offerings.
- Electric Outdoors will receive $325,000 to design, build and deploy the campsite of the future. EO-Canopy, a solar-powered, off-grid battery storage destination platform, will enable EV charging at rural campsites and other destinations for the Michigan-based company.
- Snowbotix, a sole manufacturer of all-electric, all-terrain, and all-season multi-utility robots in the United States will receive $200,000 to electrify and automate labor-intensive and dangerous outdoor maintenance tasks, including but not limited to nonroad/offroad snow removal, snow grooming, cleaning, power washing, and vegetation control. The company will deploy and assess the performance of a fleet of electric, autonomous multi-utility robots to help solve the labor shortage and reduce the environmental impact of gas-powered equipment in traditional practices.
“Billions of dollars are being invested in the transformation of the outdoor mobility experience through electrification and supporting technologies,” said Kathryn Snorrason, Interim Chief Mobility Officer of the State of Michigan. “By aligning our industry-leading initiatives and investment in vehicle technology with the expanding outdoor industry, we can attract industry investment and talent from across the nation while improving accessibility and sustainability within our outdoor recreational assets.”
Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity (LEO), have launched the MP4 grant program to help support partnerships and programs that address emerging mobility systems across all transportation modes – including air, ground, marine and off-road – throughout the state of Michigan. The new grant program complements already-existing grant programs offered by the state, including the Mobility Wallet Challenge and the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform.
Innovation at the intersection of mobility and outdoor recreation is already underway throughout Michigan, supported by a diverse and growing Outdoor Industry Innovation Network of partners and collaborators, including MICHAuto, Newlab, Michigan Central Station, Plug and Play Detroit, Centrepolis at Lawrence Tech, SmartZones, as well as a range of existing and emerging testing and proving grounds across the state, including the Holly Oaks ORV Park in Oakland County. The goal of this emerging Outdoor Industry Innovation Network is to help the state identify and coordinate these and similar partnerships to ensure that entrepreneurs in the outdoor innovation sector have access to the full capabilities of the state’s ecosystem of support.
“Working with OFME and other partners across the state, the Outdoor Industry Office is focused on expanding the value proposition of outdoor recreation in Michigan to ensure that the national industry recognizes the many ways Michigan can help support outdoor innovation – including products, process, people, and places,” said Brad Garmon, director of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office at MEDC. “The launch of the MP4 program, along with these innovative mobility grant projects, will help to tangibly expand the investment and employment opportunities within our state’s outdoor recreation industry.”
Through a contract with the MEDC, additional facilitation and coordination of the Michigan Outdoor Industry Innovation Network will be supported by David Ollila, an entrepreneur whose proposed Shophouse Park outdoor industry innovation center in Upper Peninsula has received support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. Working with OFME and the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, Shophouse Park will help develop additional collaborations and connections to ensure that innovators and entrepreneurs get connected into Michigan’s dense outdoor industry ecosystem of support.
“Michigan’s two-peninsula advantage is unique in the world,” said Ollila of the state’s focus on the outdoors as an economic strategy. “By tying our rural and urban economies together through the outdoors, we can be authentic and competitive on a global stage.”
Michigan continues to support innovation within the outdoor recreation sector, and support regional leaders as they increasingly map their assets in recreation, innovation, and production to attract and grow investments as well as talent opportunities. Today’s news builds on an April 2023 announcement of the Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge, a first-of-its-kind program in the United States that puts Michigan at the forefront of future-proofing sustainable maritime transportation, including recreational boating activities, marina innovation, and commercial activities on the Great Lakes. Today’s news also directly supports the goals and initiatives outlined in the MI Healthy Climate Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition the state toward economy-wide carbon neutrality.
Other key investments related to outdoor recreation being pursued by MEDC and partner organizations like the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, as well as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) include:
- New EV charging station installations in the Upper Peninsula:
- Bay Mills Indian Community
- State Electric Company
- Keweenaw Resort, LLC
- 330 Fifth, LLC
- A partnership with Rivian and Michigan’s DNR to deploy EV charging stations across Michigan’s State Parks;
- The ongoing development of the Lake MI EV Circuit;
- A partnership with the National Parks Service to pilot emerging mobility technologies at Michigan’s national parks, in support of improving accessibility and sustainability.
About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.