Michigan Wins Wind Power from Nevada

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Reno-based Mariah Power cited lack of funding in the state of Nevada as a key factor in its decision to launch a wind turbine production line in Michigan, potentially creating 120 jobs for that area.

The project, a joint venture between Mariah Power and Michigan-based MasTech Manufacturing, will produce 30-foot wind turbines known as Windspires.

Easy access to manufacturing expertise and materials such as steel and aluminum were factors in the decision to pick Michigan as the site for the manufacturing facility, said Amy Berry, communications manager for Mariah Power.

The area also has a deep water shipping channel, which factors into the company’s plans to go international in the future, Berry said.

Funding, however, was the key reason why the company opted to put its manufacturing facility in Michigan instead of Nevada, said Mike Hess, co-founder and chief executive officer of Mariah Power.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp., for example, provided $400,000 in funds to the project. All in all, the project received about $1.5 million dollars worth of funding, Hess said.

“We need to do this stuff in Nevada,” Hess said. “We need to figure out how we can do economic development ourselves—and not just tax abatement but helping some of these start-up companies get funded. Something I spend a lot of my time doing is actually raising money, which is hard for a startup.”

Dave Archer, chief executive officer for Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, said Hess is “absolutely correct.” According to Archer, funding continues to be the No. 1 request that his organization gets when it assists startup companies.

And while Nevada has seen some improvement, including raising its number of “angel funding” or investor groups for startups from two to three in the past year, it needs more funding resources in order to truly be competitive.

“The single biggest challenge facing Nevada entrepreneurs is access to risk capital,” Archer said. “We only have three angel groups in the state, and we virtually have no venture capital firms to speak of. The state constitution also prevents the state from loaning money or investing in companies. That prevents Nevada from having any sort of state-based development funds as many other states do.”

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