Michigan companies closer to part in Iraq projects

By KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN | December 13, 2011 | 12:00 PM EST

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A consortium of Michigan companies says it's eager to oversee the building of a new city near Baghdad that draws on the skills of Iraqi immigrants living in Michigan.

Officials from the National Investment Commission of Iraq announced a memorandum of understanding Tuesday with the consortium, MICH Development, to plan and build a city for 500,000. That means the consortium can start raising the $5.5 billion needed from banks and private investors to get the project under way by late 2012.

Beyond raising the money, no one is sure about the security situation after U.S. troops withdraw, and negotiating the convoluted Iraqi bureaucracy can be difficult.

Although much of the building is expected to be done by Iraqi workers, Michigan companies could win up to $1.5 billion in contracts.