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Harris announces loan program, funding for auto parts production during Detroit stop

Vice President Kamala Harris announced a new loan program to help small businesses with priorities like energy efficiency upgrades to production facilities during a stop in Detroit Monday.

The program, run through the Small Business Administration, involves using private equity dollars to match government-backed loans.

Harris said the awards could range from $250,000 to $10 million.

“This investment will help to keep our auto supply chains here in America, which strengthens America’s economy overall and keep those jobs here in Detroit,” Harris told a crowded room at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

A second pot of money announced at the Detroit stop included $100 million in funding for small and medium auto-parts manufacturers.

The money will help with increased production, the conversion to building electric vehicles, and other needs, officials said. It will be distributed through the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, a former Michigan governor, said it will be awarded through a competitive process.

“You know in Michigan, obviously, we’ve got a huge amount of suppliers and in this region overall. But we want to make sure those suppliers have the best ways, including technical assistance on converting existing internal combustion engine supplies to electric vehicle supplies,” Granholm told reporters.

Both the trip to Michigan and the announcements have come under criticism from groups who say the new grants wouldn’t be necessary without the Biden-Harris Administration’s EV transition policies.

One of them is Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian think tank. “For Michiganders, economic opportunity starts by quitting ‘Bidenomics’ and embracing real solutions that empower individuals and businesses to seek out their purpose and thrive on their own terms—not top-down policies that favor the Administration’s allied special interests,” a statement from AFP-Michigan Director of Grassroots Operations Tim Golding said.

The stop in Detroit came as part of the vice president’s Economic Opportunity Tour. Joining her were various officials, like Granholm, Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, U.S. Representative Shri Thanedar (D-MI 13), and Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist.

The Cass Technical High School marching band performed before, during, and after the event.

Though the announcement about federal funding opportunities for auto-parts manufacturers officially headlined the stop, many of the speakers focused on the Biden-Harris Administration’s economic policies as a whole, and their impact on Black Americans.

Large signs lining the room read “Economic Opportunity for All” and “Freedom to Thrive.” And it took place at a time Michigan looks to be a pivotal state in the November presidential election.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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