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Michigan Township Votes to Remove Board Over Chinese-Owned EV Battery Plant

In a decisive move on Tuesday, residents of a western Michigan township ousted the entire board due to its approval of tax breaks for Gotion's future EV battery plant.

Michael C. Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Battery Technology

November 9, 2023

2 Min Read
Crowd at rally in Michigan
File photo of a crowd at a political rally in Warren, MI, 2017CREDIT: RACHEL WOOLF / STRINGER / GETTY IMAGES NEWS VIA GETTY IMAGES

On Tuesday, citizens of a township in western Michigan decided to oust the remaining five members of the township board. Their disapproval stemmed from the board's endorsement of tax breaks for a Chinese-owned company linked to a forthcoming electric vehicle battery plant. The controversy surrounding the battery plant deal and Gotion's Chinese affiliations had been escalating for months in Green Charter Township, near Big Rapids.

The Whitmer administration had unveiled the battery plant deal with great enthusiasm the previous year, as part of a bold initiative to lure electric vehicle investments to the state. The Gotion plant is anticipated to inject billions of dollars into the region and generate 2,350 job opportunities.

But, as we’ve reported, the news became polarizing to the Big Rapids community, particularly in the runup to the Michigan gubernatorial election in November 2022, when Whitmer’s opponent, Republican Todor Dixon made the state’s support a campaign issue. The major objection: Gotion Inc., though US-based, is owned by Gotion High-Tech, an organization headquartered in China, within an environment where companies are experiencing growing expectations to align with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

China fears trump jobs hopes

Detractors argue that Michigan should avoid the potential risks associated with permitting a battery company connected to China to establish a presence in the state, particularly in the crucial domain of electric vehicles.

Other objections came from the Democratic side of the legislative aisle, raising environmental concerns—but the loudest objections have been about Communist control.

Earlier this year, residents of the township initiated a petition to remove the board members, accusing them of neglecting to assess the community's stance on the project. The proposed factory is set to be located just north of the township, bordering Big Rapids.

The $2.3 billion electric vehicle battery factory, spanning 3 million square feet, found support among some community members. Advocates highlighted the promised job opportunities in a region grappling with population decline.

However, in Tuesday's election, opponents of the plant replaced the township supervisor, clerk, treasurer, and two trustees. It remains uncertain, though, whether Tuesday's recall will have any effect on halting the project.

About the Author(s)

Michael C. Anderson

Editor-in-Chief, Battery Technology, Informa Markets - Engineering

Battery Technology Editor-in-Chief Michael C. Anderson has been covering manufacturing and transportation technology developments for more than a quarter-century, with editor roles at Manufacturing Engineering, Cutting Tool Engineering, Automotive Design & Production, and Smart Manufacturing. Before all of that, he taught English and literature at colleges in Japan and Michigan.

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