Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) – A new partnership that will research and create lighter and stronger manufacturing materials will be a boost to Michigan’s economy and the auto industry, officials said.

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Lt. Gov. Brian Calley was expected to discuss the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation during a visit to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit later Tuesday.

President Barack Obama last week announced that the $259 million institute anchored by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville will include 122 public and private partners, including some from Michigan. They’ll team to make lighter and stronger manufacturing materials for things like fuel-efficient cars or wind turbine blades.

“While the larger auto manufacturers are exploring some of these same material technologies on their own, this … will help smaller companies with access to the technology, or a place to test innovative ideas,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement after the announcement was made.

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As part of the effort, lab space is expected to be used in Detroit. Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. and Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. are among those involved in the Advanced Composites hub.

The effort is backed in part by a $70 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and Michigan has made a $15 million commitment to support the hub’s activities in Michigan over the next five years. Other partners are providing the rest of the funding.

It joins other manufacturing hubs designated for Detroit; Youngstown, Ohio; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Chicago.

On Thursday, a ribbon-cutting is planned at the earlier announced $148 million American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Detroit. The research program is expected to help move cutting-edge metals from research into vehicles, planes and ships used commercially and by the U.S. military.

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