By a vote of 10-9, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the transfer of state tax funds, enabling state authorities to use the money to build a $2.4 billion plant manufacturing EV battery components in Green Township and create an estimated 2,350 jobs in Mecosta County.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other proponents have hailed the proposals as “the biggest ever economic development project in Northern Michigan.” However, opponents have opposed the initiative, citing issues with the company’s ties to China and the environmental effects on a rural section of the state.
Democratic legislators cast 10 of the yes votes. Three Democrats and six Republicans joined the no vote. Democratic senator from Lansing and chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Sarah Anthony claimed that after the hour-long meeting on Thursday, Democrats were looking out for “all Michiganders.”
Anthony stated, “If you’ve really come here, you know this is one of the poorest places in the state. “So I think it is a point of privilege for individuals to say that good paying jobs… for a very rural, very low-income area should not be considered with due diligence.”
However, detractors, such as Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Kristina Karamo, often emphasized Gotion’s connections to China and raised national security issues with the firm owning property in Michigan.
“You are a Benedict Arnold if you chose to donate these monies to Gotion. In reference to the Revolutionary War commander who deserted to the British, Karamo addressed legislators, “You are a traitor to our country.
Despite being based in China since its inception in 2006, Gotion’s American subsidiary has been established in California since 2014. About 26% of the business is owned by Volkswagen AG. Three of its board members are Chinese, one is American, and one is German.
Following the committee meeting, Karamo congratulated the three Democrats who had opposed the transfer and said that those who had backed it should face recall campaigns.
Sens. Sylvia Santana of Detroit, Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor, and Rosemary Bayer of West Bloomfield were the three Democrats who abstained.
A “small but vocal” number of opponents to the proposal, according to Jerrilynn Strong, chairperson of the Mecosta County Board of Commissioners, spoke out against it before to the vote. She said that the county board of authorities was helpful.
Strong told legislators that “I think this project will be crucial to the future of our region and our state.”
If the Gotion factory doesn’t select Michigan as its new location, Quentin Messer, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., has suggested that it would just choose another state in the union.
“Why wouldn’t we want it to happen in Michigan if it’s going to happen in the United States?” This month, Messer posed the question. However, Marjorie Steele, a resident of Big Rapids, said that the expansion clearly presented security dangers to her neighborhood. Steele warned the senators, “Your votes today are lines in the sand.
John Moolenaar, a U.S. Representative from Caledonia, called the Senate committee’s action a “historic mistake.”
The Michigan National Guard has trained military partners from Taiwan to be ready for any CCP (Chinese Community Party) invasion at Camp Grayling, which is 100 miles from the planned site, according to Moolenaar. “However, state government officials in Michigan are supporting organizations connected to CCP.”
Overall incentives for the project are expected to total more than $800 million, including the $175 million that senators authorized on Thursday. The move was previously approved by the House Appropriations Committee.
Legislators decided to give $125 million of the $175 million to the Critical Industry Program, which allows the money to flow to Gotion. The Strategic Site Readiness Program, which receives the remaining $50 million, is responsible for enhancing the development site.
The decision on Thursday, according to Green Township Supervisor Jim Chapman, is “another monumental step forward on our journey to bring thousands of good-paying jobs to the Big Rapids area.”
More people will shop at our neighborhood stores, according to Chapman. More well-paying employment will be available for our family.
According to information from the Census Bureau, Gotion’s application for a property tax exemption states that company anticipates an annual average pay at the facility of $61,995, which is around 35% more than the county’s median family income ($45,797) in 2020.