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This post, part of a series we're running all about electric cars, was written by Jamie Page Deaton from HowStuffWorks.com.

Growing things need help and encouragement; it's why you cover your tomato plants when frost is forecast and why you make sure your kids eat right and do well in school. The same principles apply to industry. New industries need help to grow. In order to help the electric car industry, the U.S. government has created a number of new programs.

Many of the programs came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The factory in Holland, Mich., that will build batteries for the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus Electric got a $151 million grant from the federal government as part of the stimulus act. Not only does having a domestic battery plant help the electric car industry, but the factory also employs 300 workers, which is no small thing for the troubled Michigan economy. Another factory in Livonia, Mich., received $249 million in stimulus dollars to build electric car batteries.

The programs aren't just for electric car makers or their suppliers, however. The federal government offers consumers a tax credit of up to $7,500 to people who buy a plug-in car. That includes plug-in hybrids or electric cars. The tax credit is meant to bring the cost of buying an electric car in line with the cost of a comparable gasoline-powered car. Plus, the government is offering free home charging stations to 4,400 buyers of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car. Those charging stations are worth about $2,000 each. Overall, the government plans to subsidize the installation of about 15,000 home charging stations.

But charging stations grants aren't limited to homes. One of the limits to people adopting electric cars is the inability to charge them quickly when they aren't home. Enter infrastructure programs meant to place charging stations out where people can use them to charge their electric cars quickly. On the West Coast, a $15 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) is placing charging stations around San Jose, Calif.

All of this is being done with the goal of making electric cars easier on consumers' lifestyles and their wallets. And, who knows -- with a little encouragement and tending from the government, the electric car industry just might take off.