IN-DEPTH: How bipartisanship spurred GM's massive investment in Michigan

GM SHirkey and whitmer.jpg
Posted at 9:56 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 07:47:19-05

LANSING, Mich. — You know something big is happening if you see Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R–Clarklake) smiling at the same news conference, as you did on Tuesday.

“You may have heard that Governor Whitmer and I don't always agree with each other, and once awhile Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint; State Senate Minority Leader) and I disagree,” Shirkey joked on stage.

Tuesday was different; politics took a backseat for a major announcement regarding the future of electric vehicle production in Michigan.

“Today's investment is proof of what's possible when we work together,” Whitmer said.

On Tuesday, Big Three automaker General Motors announced a $7 billion investment at four Michigan manufacturing sites, including construction of a new electric vehicle battery plant near Lansing. Creating at least 4,000 new jobs and retaining 1,000 others.

“The $7 billion investment is the largest in GM’s history, and it's so appropriate that it's in Michigan,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. “We are committed to helping Michigan be the epicenter of EVs.”

We probably won’t get to that point without a little teamwork.

“I’d like to point out that these important investments would not have been made possible without the strong support from the governor. The state Legislature, Orion Township, the city of Lansing and Delta Township, as well as the collaboration of the UAW and LG Energy Solution,” Barra added.

But what propelled them forward?

Let’s take it back to last month when the Republican-led Legislature and Governor Whitmer came together to approve a more than $1 billion funding pool for economic development.

It was formed after Michigan missed out on bringing in billions from Ford Motor Co., who made their EV investments in other states.

RELATED: Consumers Energy: We Can Power 1 Million Electric Vehicles on Michigan Roads by 2030

“What our job in the Legislature is, is to create and foster the environment for companies to be here, create and foster the environment for advancements in technology and innovation,” says State Rep. Bryan Posthumus (R–Kent County). “The economic development package that the Legislature passed and the governor ultimately signed into law is a step in the right direction in order to make sure we are making those investments.”

The result: the state’s Strategic Fund Board approved more than $820 million from that pool in state incentives for GM, locking in their massive investment.

The economic well-being of our state isn't a partisan matter. High-quality jobs don't have a party affiliation, and I’m proud to have on this stage today with me some lawmakers who played an important role in making this day happen,” Shirkey added.

“We rolled up our sleeves. We brought people from both sides of the aisle, business local leaders, utilities and labor together to bring the $7 billion investment across the finish line,” Whitmer said. “And we prove the doubters and the cynics wrong. We showed everyone that we can compete for transformational projects; we can win billions and investment and thousands of jobs. Putting the world on wheels was act one. In the decades to come, we'll electrify the world.”

The governor is hopeful for future prospects as well. "Our collaboration over the last few months proves that when we work together, we win," she says. "And I'm confident that we can and will continue winning huge projects and making big investments in Michigan. So thank you all for working with me and one another to get this done. Our future is bright," she concluded.

While the investment will create four thousand direct jobs, experts say the impact will help create thousands of more jobs across the state, including in West Michigan.

Whitmer says the jobs will create $35 billion in new personal income over the next 20 years.

RELATED: 'We're not that different': Exchange program helps build bipartisanship among lawmakers

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