(TNS) — TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday he will sign an agreement with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne designed to help both regions attract research and development of self-driving cars.
Snyder said the agreement is a framework to guide discussions that could lead to specific ways for the two governments to work together.
"It's just an agreement to say how can we collaborate more on innovation," Snyder said Wednesday morning after he spoke at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, an automotive conference. "If you look at it, Ontario is strong in the automotive industry as is Michigan. And how can we talk about what is the future....of the industry? how we can work together on that?"
Snyder said he and Wynne plan to sign the agreement at about noon at the automotive conference, which is hosted by the Center for Automotive Research.
Snyder also spoke about Michigan's Planet M initiative, a marketing effort launched in May that is designed promote the state and its automotive research and development efforts.
Like the Pure Michigan campaign, Planet M effort is designed to capture something essential about the state’s strengths — its engineering talent, its history of automotive innovation, its manufacturing capacity, even its four-season environment that allows testing of new vehicle technology in realistic weather conditions.
Another piece of the puzzle is the state's plans to turn the former Willow Run bomber plant into a testing center for connected vehicle technology and self-driving cars. In July, the state announced it spent $1.2 million to buy a 311-acre chunk of the Willow Run.
"We are moving ahead to make Willow Run a reality...I encourage the whole industry to get behind this, because this needs to happen," Snyder told several hundred automotive executives and analysts at the conference today.
Snyder also said he plans to push for a federal designation of Willow Run as a testing site for autonomous vehicles.
The governor first announced plans for Willow Run in January during his state of the state address.
Built by Henry Ford in 1941, the old plant made B24 bombers during World War II and was later sold to General Motors in the 1950s. It has been empty since GM closed it in December 2010.
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