Despite Ford pause, Michigan OKs another $65M for Marshall EV megasite
- Michigan OK’s another $65M for a Ford EV battery site in Marshall
- The vote came one day after Ford paused battery plant construction
- Funding will support development of adjacent property
LANSING—Michigan officials on Tuesday pressed forward with plans to prepare a Marshall megasite for future development, approving a $65 million grant despite Ford Motor Co.’s decision a day earlier to suspend work on its planned electric vehicle battery facility.
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board of Directors signed off on new funding for the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance to acquire and prepare 800 acres for a separate supplier park next to the planned Ford factory.
“We fully expect that Ford will continue” its BlueOval battery project, said Quentin Messer, who sits on the strategic fund board and serves as president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
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But the state needs to allow Ford to continue negotiations with the United Auto Workers union, Messer said, referencing the union’s ongoing strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which drew President Joe Biden to metro Detroit Tuesday and has former President Donald Trump planning a Wednesday return.
Ford has not confirmed whether the labor strike led to its decision to “pause” work on the Blue Oval campus, a sprawling $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant projected to create 2,500 jobs by the time production is slated to begin in 2026.
A Ford spokesperson said Monday the automaker has not made any final decisions but is “pausing work” and will “limit spending on construction at Marshall until we're confident about our ability to competitively run the plant.”
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has pushed hard for the project and used the state purse to pursue it: Michigan has so far approved $1.8 billion in incentives for the Marshall site, including the $65 million approved Tuesday.
The governor’s spokesperson downplayed Ford’s decision to suspend construction, saying the automaker “has been clear that this is a pause.”
Whitmer will “continue to push for successful negotiations between the Big 3 and UAW so that Michiganders can get back to work doing what they do best,” said Whitmer Press Secretary Stacey LaRouche.
The $65 million grant approved Tuesday will allow the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance to prepare land next to the Ford property, west of 13 Mile Road, where officials hope suppliers and other firms will want to locate.
The money can be used for land acquisition, site studies and preparation, water and wastewater upgrades, road enhancements, professional fees, administration and other infrastructure improvements, according to an MEDC project memo.
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board of Directors approved the grant despite concerns voiced by Whitmer-appointed board member Dan Meyering, an Ada businessman who questioned the timing because “the anchor tenant, Ford, is looking to pull back from the site.”
But speaking with reporters ahead of the vote, Messer said the state has “no hesitation on continuing to move forward” with site preparation in Marshall, where he said the plan has always been to attract other companies, in addition to Ford.
“This site is one of the most desirable sites in North America, and we are confident that it is going to be attractive for private investment,” Messer said. “We want to make sure that we're ready for that.”
Republicans in the Michigan Legislature seized on the Ford pause to attack Whitmer, who has used major state incentives to secure investments from the automaker and other companies, including General Motors.
Whitmer "gave away the store to bring Ford to Marshall" but "still fell short" because Democrats are "pushing policies that make Michigan less competitive," House Minority Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, said in a statement.
Hall pointed to Whitmer-backed proposals that could increase costs for Michigan businesses, including a mandatory paid leave program and a carbon-free clean energy plan that Democratic majorities are beginning to debate in Lansing.
“It doesn’t make sense to throw millions more taxpayer dollars at a stalled project,” Hall said. “Another $65 million isn’t going to make up for the uncompetitive agenda Democrats are pushing.”
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