Big Rapids Township Trustee Raises Concerns with Proposed EV Battery Plant

2 months ago 9&10 News

While Gotion Inc. continues to wait for state and township approval, some Commissioners are raising concerns.

Commissioners from Big Rapids and Green Townships, as well as Mecosta County agreed in September to take the first steps to allow Gotion to open a new plant. Commissioners agreed to make the Big Rapids Industrial Park a ‘Renaissance Zone’ which allows for tax free usage.

While the plant is expected to create 2,350 jobs over the next 10 years, the project has been put on hold as Commissioners in Big Rapids Charter Township decide if they want to sell their share of the Industrial Park’s land.

Some Big Rapids Charter Township Commissioners are sounding off following Supervisor Bill Stanek’s comments calling Gotion an international company. This led some commissioners to ask for his resignation.

“This is a very fragile process, and it could go away at any time. I think the last thing we want to do is offend the company that wants to join the community,” Commissioner Carman Bean states. 

According to the company’s website, Gotion’s headquarters is in Fremont, California and has six plants across the world, with one in Shanghai, China.

Bean says he and some of the other commissioners just want to know what they’re getting into.

“We want to see job guarantees. Currently we’ve seen up to 2,350 jobs, we haven’t heard anything about what’s the minimum amount,” Bean questions.

Bean says he and other commissioners have also raised concerns with the incentives and tax breaks the company will receive. Their total incentive package from the state is $1.3 billion.

“We don’t know if it’s the best us e of the funds, and we’re just doing our due diligence. It’s perhaps the largest decision any of us will ever make, and we want to make sure we get it right,” Bean admits.

While Supervisor Bill Stanek feels like some commissioners are splitting hairs on some of the issues. He says there are some things he agrees with.

“I agree, we are giving a lot of tax breaks to [Gotion], but if Michigan wants to continue to be the automotive capital of the world, it’s going to have to play ball,” Stanek claims.

Bean questions if the community even wants to play ball as the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has to get through their investigation of the wetlands in the area before the plant can begin construction.

“The environment concerns in my opinion will be addressed by the regulatory agencies. My biggest concern is does the community want to trade their way of life for ‘x’ amount of dollars over time, are the jobs worth it,” Bean asks.

Bean says he wants to make sure the Township and its residents are on board and don’t come out of the deal losers. While Stanek says they will end up losers if they don’t act.

“In the past we’ve come out losers because we haven’t tried. And in small towns, unless you try [to bring] some of the bigger corporations, you’re going to come out a loser,” Stanek says.

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