Details emerge on $2.4 billion EV battery plant in West Michigan


GRAND RAPIDS — Economic developers confirmed Friday that electric vehicle battery maker Gotion Inc. is planning a nearly $2.4 billion factory near Big Rapids, aiming to create 2,350 jobs in the next decade.

An application submitted to the state Thursday by The Right Place — West Michigan’s economic development agency — seeks approval for a 30-year, property tax-free Renaissance Zone on 523 acres spanning Big Rapids Township, Green Township and Mecosta County.

Creation of the Renaissance Zone would save Gotion, a Chinese subsidiary, an estimated $13 million in property taxes annually, according to the application.

Township and county leaders will vote on the request at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

Headquartered in Silicon Valley’s Fremont, Calif., Gotion makes electronics, battery packs and energy storage technology for electric vehicles at locations in Ohio, China, Japan, Singapore and Germany.

Volkswagen is the company’s largest shareholder, with a 26.5 percent stake.

The proposed facility in Big Rapids would primarily make energy storage components — batteries — according to The Right Place application.

Gotion chose the area over competing sites in Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Kentucky.

For the development — dubbed “Project Elephant” in the application — Gotion would invest $2.36 billion in land improvements, buildings, machinery and equipment across four phases. The project aims to create 2,350 high-tech jobs at an average annual wage of $61,995 by the end of phase four, with hiring starting in June 2023 and wrapping at the end of 2031, according to the application.

If all goes according to plan, the company would be the largest employer in the area, a designation currently held by Ferris State University with about 1,400 workers.

Gotion would aim to create 586 jobs in the first year of operations at the factory — 2024 — 556 in the second year, and 723 by year five. Big Rapids Charter Township had a population of 3,917 as of 2020, and Green Township’s was 3,219.

The company expects to invest $365 million in year one, $363 million in year two, $453 million in the third year, $363 million in year four and $820 million in year five.

The application said an estimated $14 million in public infrastructure improvements would be needed to support the project, including $1.7 million for sanitary sewers, $3.9 million for water mains and an elevated water storage tank, $3.6 million for road improvements, and $4.8 million for design, engineering, administration and related costs.

The Right Place said the project is expected to create indirect economic impact in the area including job creation in construction, services, retail and wholesale sectors. It anticipates the development also will spur the creation of new housing and jumpstart previously stalled residential projects.

According to the application, a driving factor in Gotion’s selection of Big Rapids was its proximity to Ferris State and the fact that there are no existing renewable energy Renaissance Zones nearby.

If the local governments approve Gotion’s application Monday, the request would head to the Michigan Strategic Fund board. The MEDC said Friday it does not yet know when the MSF board will consider the request.

The Right Place and Michigan Economic Development Corporation did not respond to questions on whether the state will provide Gotion additional tax incentives, like a grant from the new Michigan Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund.

— Crain’s Detroit Business reporter David Eggert contributed to this report.

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