HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) - For people on the unemployment line, President Obama's visit to Holland is less about politics and more about jobs. For others, it's about the environment.
Johnson Controls is one of several companies benefitting from $2.4 billion in stimulus money set aside for building the next generation of batteries that the White House and others hope will power vehicles in the near-future.
The company and their European partner received about $3 million in federal funds, and another $1.6 million in funds from Michigan to build this $600 million facility in Holland.
The idea, the White House believes, is to help these companies financially to build electric cars and batteries, bring down the cost to the public, and a new industry that is environmentally-friendly sprouts up.
The hiring has just begun.
In April 2009 - when Michigan OK'd funding for battery production -- unemployment was between 10-13.5% in the five West Michigan labor markets.
In June 2011, the unemployment numbers are below 10% everywhere except Muskegon.
Certainly some people found jobs, even in this industry, and some disappeared from the unemployment rolls. Some, though, question if batteries are the answer.
Many Republicans say the Obama administration is using tax dollars to place a very large bet on something that may not work. Johnson Controls investment in this plant -- and that of the nearby LG Chem plant -- are largely funded with tax money.
That's one reason why President Obama is back in Holland in his continued push for a new way to power the way we get around.
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