21st Century Jobs

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Michigan's best, brightest, and most innovative companies get set to compete for a piece of the state's leftover tobacco settlement money.

It's a state initiative called "21st Century Jobs" and it offers grants to businesses in growing areas of industry to help create jobs for the future.

The state will start taking proposals January 30. The first round of grants will be announced six months later, June 30.

Industries you'll probably see on the list: life sciences, homeland security, advanced manufacturing, and of course, alternative energy.

Charlie Krupka's Polymer Composite Technologies includes a company they call Florheat that creates, assembles, and ships an alternative way to heat your home.

"The radiant system works with hot water going thru tubes under the floors," he explains.

His is a tiny operation with just 13 employees. They farm out much of the work.

"Right now, our stuff is manufactured in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio," he says. “And I'd like to bring that here to Lansing. We could have 40 to 50 new jobs within 12 to 18 months."

They will be among the thousands applying for the grant money. MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) President James Epolito explains they will be selective and take their time.

"This is not about handing money out with both hands," he says.

Companies can begin submitting grants January 30. The first round of winners will be announced June 30. In 2006, there could be as much as $100 million distributed.

The initiative team is on the road with information over the next several weeks. They'll be in East Lansing at MSU's Kellogg Center at 10 a.m. Friday.