HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) - Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra shared a platform with President Obama in July 2010 when hopes were high LG Chem would soon be shipping out new-generation electric car batteries.
Now, Dykstra wonders if the hopes were too high.
A Target 8 investigation found workers at LG Chem have so little to do they play cards or do charity work on company time.
Dykstra doesn't want to get into the politics of the situation, about the federal stimulus program that pumped $151 million into the project.
"Obviously, the whole stimulus was a political question. Anytime a president comes to visit a spot and it doesn't work out so well, that's a political issue," Dykstra told 24 Hour News 8. "Of course the fact of the matter is we're a few weeks before a presidential election."
Of the 200 workers at LG Chem in Holland , 100 of them are listed are being paid for with federal funds -- $7 million of which went into training them.
Workers said they have had little to do for months. Some never show up for work and instead head out to do charity work.
"I suppose you could look at it that the employees maybe aren't doing what they were hired to do, but on the other hand, what would any company do when customers aren't buying products?" Dykstra said. "I think LG's trying to make the best of a tough situation."
The mayor blames it on sluggish sales of the Chevy Volt.
"Maybe the bigger issue is a matter of who hyped the degree to which electric cars would be adopted into the marketplace in the short term."
The worst-case scenario, he said, is that the LG Chem plant folds -- just like electric-car battery maker A123 and solar panel manufacturer Solyndra -- both of which got millions in federal support, and both recently filed for bankruptcy.
But the mayor said he believes LG Chem is in Holland for the long run.
"I am hopeful, I think, that the company has not walked away from what it's trying to do. Again, it's not happy with the way the market has gone, nobody in this industry is happy with the way the market has gone, but maybe that was somebody else setting unrealistic expectations in the short term. ...
"I mean, obviously, we had hoped, all of us had hoped -- LG Chem had hoped for goodness sakes -- that they'd be shipping batteries and that car sales would be high enough to be having that happen. I don't think anybody is saying, 'Boy this worked out exactly perfectly.'"
Kent County leaders told 24 Hour News 8 they weren't surprised by Gary Rolls Jr.'s resignation from the Kent County Commission Thursday, but those that would comment were happy with the decision.
Michigan lawmakers passed a flurry of bills on the last day of voting in 2013.
Grand Rapids has fully recovered from the recession, according to research done by the W.E. Upjohn Institute.