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Big Rapids officials hold forum on $2.4B electric vehicle battery plant

The Gotion Inc. battery facility would be located in Big Rapids and Green Charter Townships. It would create more than 2,000 jobs.

BIG RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The Big Rapids Charter Township Board has a big decision to make: Whether or not to sell the land near the Big Rapids Airport to Gotion Inc. for the purpose of making electric vehicle batteries.

On Wednesday evening, the board held a special meeting to address questions raised by those in Mecosta County.

Township Supervisor Bill Stanek says the company would have properties in both Big Rapids Charter Township and Green Township.

"It started out to be Big Rapids Township, and then when they got to talking here, it got bigger, they needed more land, and we have the industrial park in Big Rapids, and in Green Township they started they started looking at land, some is already zoned industrial, some will have to be changed," said Stanek.

The project is expected to bring 2,300 jobs to the area over the span of 10 years.

In early October, a Michigan economic development board approved more than $400 million for two battery facilities to be built in the state. The other, located in Novi.

During Wednesday's meeting, while some offered praise for the project:

"I think it's wonderful that those monies are going to be spent here instead of going to Detroit or other places," said one person during the public comment portion of the Big Rapids Charter Township special meeting. "Why not have those monies spent here."

Others had their concerns with the company being located in China:

"Why are they moving here," said another. "China does have property, they have lots of land."

Chuck Thelen, Vice President of North American Manufacturing Operations, answered why Gotion has interest in Big Rapids.

"California mandated electric vehicles after 2035," said Thelen. "So I think that answers your question. It's an economic driven topic that the companies that make these products are looking to expand in other regions."

Overall, Stanek said they're at least months off from a final decision on selling the property.

"Our Board has to make that decision," said Stanek. "We've had this property up for sale for the past 20 years and nobody has been interested in it."

To view the who list of frequently asked questions given out by the board during Wednesday night's meeting, click this link, then scroll down to the presentation or FAQ.

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