Gone electric: New grants aim to boost state's outdoor recreation and mobility industries

What’s happening: As Michigan launches its new mobility grant program, the Mobility Public-Private Partnership & Programming (MP4) Grant, the state has also announced those recipients who will first benefit from it. Polaris, the Michigan-based Electric Outdoors, and Snowbotix will share $1,225,000 in grant funding for projects that not only intend to bolster the state’s mobility infrastructure, but also its outdoor recreation industry.

Winning projects: Polaris Inc. has been awarded $700,000 to establish a first-of-its-kind network of charging stations for electric off road vehicles, or e-ORVs. The project will start in the Upper Peninsula. Hamilton’s North Coast Adventures in the UP’s Ontonagon community will operate a fleet of Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic e-ORVs beginning next year.

Electric Outdoors, based in Southfield, has been awarded $325,000 for its EO-Canopy project, a solar-powered and off-grid battery storage destination platform that allows for EV charging at campgrounds and other rural sites.

Snowbotix has been awarded $200,000 to deploy a fleet of electric and autonomous multi-utility robots that can perform outdoor maintenance tasks like snow removal, power washing, vegetation control, and more.

Why it’s important: “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,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II says in a statement. “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.”

Who’s behind it: The MP4 Grant is the latest mobility-boosting program from the state’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, which has launched the grant program in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity (LEO). Other mobility grant programs from the state include the Mobility Wallet Challenge and the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform.

Dovetailing: While the MP4 Grants will be available to a wide range of public-private projects that address emerging mobility systems of all stripes, be it air, ground, marine, off-road, or otherwise, this first round dovetails nicely with the state’s focus on growing its outdoor recreation industry. The emerging Outdoor Industry Innovation Network, for example, aims to connect innovators and entrepreneurs in the outdoor industry sector, a group that already includes the likes of MICHAuto, Newlab, Michigan Central Station, and more.

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