HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) - The long-idle LG Chem plant in Holland has plans to finally start producing batteries, according to Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra.
Dykstra said he spoke with LG Chem representatives late last week and was informed the company plans to start up production this summer.
The $300-million plant was built in part by a $151-million federal grant that was part of Pres. Barack Obama's Recovery Act. The president came to Holland in 2010 for its groundbreaking. It was meant to produce about 15 million lithium-ion battery cells each year -- largely for the Chevrolet Volt.
But with Volt sales sluggish, the demand for the batteries stagnated. Holland LG Chem employees were placed on rolling furloughs in April 2012.
Then, an October 2012 Target 8 investigation revealed that the plant had not yet produced a single battery for sale and that its workers, with little else to do, were using company time to play games, watch movies or volunteer at local non-profits. That investigation led to a federal audit after which LG Chem repaid $842,000 of taxpayers' money.
Mayor Dykstra said he was informed last week by the company -- with which he is in touch "fairly regularly" -- that it would release a statement Sunday about starting up production.
"It's great. Great news. Obviously, we've been waiting for this. I know that LG has been waiting for this," Dykstra told 24 Hour News 8 Sunday night. "We weren't excited about the way that this has all developed -- the way the market slowed and their customer wasn't buying batteries from them. And LG feels likewise."
He said their plan was to take a long-term view and be "well-positioned" for a developing market.
"My hope is that in the long run, this is something that will be seen as something is seen as sort of a rough start but the beginning of a very long and profitable relationship," Dykstra said.
Police are investigating a report of a home invasion, but say there are inconsistencies.
A Kalamazoo County sheriff's deputy will not face criminal sexual conduct charges.
A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night for an innocent bystander who was shot and killed in October.