By DeJanay Booth

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan would create new economic development funds to help the state land major business expansions, including potentially electric vehicle battery plants, under fast-tracked bills that received initial approval Wednesday.

Lawmakers did not say how much money they may put into the accounts to offer manufacturers and other companies. While proponents did not specify pending deals for which Michigan is vying, several told the House Government Operations Committee that the state must stay competitive in the auto industry. They pointed to Ford and Toyota’s recently announced plans to build battery factories in southern states.

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“These are real opportunities in real time that will be decided over the next 60 to 90 days,” said Quentin Messer Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and president and chair of the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Wendy Block with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce said companies could announce “transformational” and “generational” projects as soon as January.

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“Time is certainly of the essence here,” she said. “We’re operating under tight time constraints here if we want to be competitive for some of these next projects.”

The panel passed the legislation and sent it to the full House, which may vote in the afternoon.

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