- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) - The Latest on the Mackinac Policy Conference, a gathering of business leaders, lawmakers and others (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

Michigan has a new strategic plan to grow the state’s military defense industry and protect against the closure of bases and other installations.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, members of the state’s congressional delegation and others announced the “Protect and Grow” initiative on Thursday at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

The initiative includes 17 recommendations. They include boosting the Detroit Arsenal, maximizing the congressional delegation’s influence in decision-making on bases, and publicizing the important of the Soo Locks to national security and advocating for funding.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center have signed a cooperative agreement that includes testing autonomous defense vehicles on Interstate 69.

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12:05 p.m.

A cluster of Michigan’s research universities was responsible for nearly $1 billion in economic activity in Detroit last year and more than 11,600 jobs, according to a new report.

The University Research Corridor - an alliance of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University - released the findings Thursday at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon says the schools wanted an analysis of their work in Detroit because the city’s success is “so critical for the future of Michigan.” University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel says it’s also important to show residents “what it is we do for the state” in an era of threats to state higher education funding.

The URC conducted $263 million in Detroit-related research in 2015.

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