BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Plans are in the works to build a new electric vehicle battery plant near Big Rapids.
The Right Place, Inc., the regional economic development agency, said in a statement that “one of the 10 largest advanced battery manufacturers in the world” was eyeing a property near Big Rapids.
The Right Place did not release the address for proposed plant, but said the site “for the past 25 years has been assembled, developed and marketed for industrial development.”
Citing two sources, The Detroit News reported Wednesday that the company is Gotion Inc. and the site is in the area of the Big Rapids airport and US-131, north of the city of Big Rapids. The newspaper said the $3.6 billion investment could create as many as 2,000 jobs over the next decade.
The Right Place President and CEO Randy Thelen said in a statement that the Big Rapids area “has been prepared for an opportunity like this to materialize to utilize the infrastructure, airport, access to freeways and locally trained talent pool.”
But he noted that the project is not yet a done deal, explaining that there are “numerous processes and steps to be taken before this project becomes a certainty.”
Thelen said Big Rapid Charter Township, Green Charter Township and the Mecosta County board of commissioners will still have to approve tax incentives. The Mecosta County administrator says a meeting has tentatively been scheduled for Monday to talk about those incentives.
“…We’re actively working to make this extraordinary project a reality for Big Rapids,” Administrator Paul Bullock said in a statement. “We look forward to sharing more about this once-in-a-century opportunity for Big Rapids area in the coming days.”
Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Quentin Messer said in a statement that the state panel, which approves development grants and tax incentives, is “actively working with our partners to attract a transformational investment at the site in Big Rapids, which could create generational economic opportunity for residents, small businesses, and neighboring communities throughout the region.”
Mike Wall, an auto industry analyst, with S&P Global Mobility, said the Big Rapids project and several others planned in the state would help position Michigan as a major battery manufacturer for EVs.
“When we talk about battery plants like this, they’re not unlike what you might see with an engine or transmission facility or some of the other assembly plants for that matter. There is a lot of manpower, a lot of head count, that’s required by these facilities,” Wall said.
Wall said the recently passed federal Inflation Reduction Act is also a factor, requiring batteries in vehicles that qualify for tax credits must be made in the U.S.
“Those battery packs being localized here in the U.S. is a big critical factor into taping into some of those EV incentives,” Wall said.
Qingliu Wu, an associate professor of engineering with Western Michigan University who specializes in battery technology, said the Chinese company planning the project in Big Rapids will bring a lot of knowledge to the U.S. market. He said locating the battery plants within the same state or region can reduce costs.
“If we have to buy the battery pack from other states or other countries. then this will increase the cost of final product of the electrical cars,” Wu said.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled S&P Global Mobility. We regret the error, which has since been corrected.