These days, it seems dangerous to make too much of any positive economic sign in Michigan, but the announcement by General Motors Monday that it will make the battery for the Chevy Volt here could be the germ of something big for the state.

It's a sign that the automaker is not just looking to its own future, but tapping the part of its future that could most benefit the state of Michigan. ...

For years, American companies have ceded battery production to companies overseas, mainly in Asia, because of low financial returns. Foreign companies have since jumped way ahead on battery technology, leaving a critical gap for American firms to make up now that demand for newer, better batteries is higher and expected to grow ...

Michigan could be ground zero for that effort, and GM's announcement makes that more likely. It puts Michigan on the battery map.

The key now is for both state and local government to pitch in where appropriate ... to make sure this initial move takes root and then flowers beyond just GM's effort.

... Federal officials must make sure that battery cell technology gets a boost from the $25 billion set aside in Energy Department funds to help the automakers retool for the future. ...