'We're on that global championship stage again': Lansing-area leaders react to GM investment

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Posted at 10:48 PM, Jan 25, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — General Motors plans to build a $2.6 billion battery plant in Lansing and local leaders are calling it a big win for the region.

“It's a global victory for our region for the next 20 years," said Bob Tresize, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership. "It's a [$2.6] billion investment, 2.5 million square feet, 2000 great paying jobs and the multiplier effect is going to be incredible on our region for a long time.”

Tresize said the $7 billion investment package GM announced this morning for four project around the state is one of the largest Michigan has seen in the last 15 years.

“It's not just a plant," Tresize said. "It's about a whole new industry really, and cutting edge technologies from a global perspective, as we move from fossil fuels to, you know, different kinds of technologies.”

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said called it an exciting announcement for the city.

“We put together a tremendous proposal. We worked with all of our regional partners, we worked with Governor Whitmer, to put together a proposal, and GM loved it, and they chose it," Schor said. "We're going to have $2.6 billion of investment with the new battery plant, 1700 jobs.”

Schor said it all began 20 years ago with a campaign dedicated to keeping GM in Lansing.

"Mayor [David] Hollister led that effort, and now, 20 years later, we're seeing a [$2.6] billion dollar investment because we were willing to continue showing how excited we are to have GM here, how ready we are to do the work and put the world on electric wheels," Schor said.

The battery plant will be built next to GM's Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant, and Delta Township Supervisor Ken Fletcher said the addition of jobs is going to benefit the township in many ways.

“Those 1,700 workers will be stopping at gas stations and restaurants and other stores as they come to and from work and may actually attract people to come live in our community in either Delta or the Lansing region to work at that facility," Fletcher said. "So bringing new families into the area. So that's fantastic.”

General Motors is also investing more than half a billion dollars in the Lansing Delta Township and Lansing Grand River plants.

“When you add in the fact that they announced that there's $510 million being spent to upgrade and to retool the Delta plant and the Grand River plant for new products and to have the next generation of vehicles built there, that shows a long term commitment to our region to both our factories and to our workforce here," Fletcher said.

Steve Dawes, regional director for the United Auto Workers Region One D, said this isn't only good news for the city but also for GM workers.

“They come to work every day, they do a great job, they've worked through this whole entire pandemic, without a playbook coming up with their own ideas to keep people safe and still build the greatest vehicles," Dawes said. "So for General Motors to recognize them, and put investment back into their community, I think that says job well done.”

Especially during a time of uncertainty with the pandemic.

“The future looks bright and I'm pretty excited about it," Dawes said. "I'm really, really proud of our membership and proud of our leadership of our local unions that that really go the extra mile and make these things make these things happen.”

On Tuesday morning, the state approved more than $666 million in incentives for GM's projects in Lansing and a $4 billion investment to convert an Orion Township plant for electric truck production.

Tresize said the decision to approve this investment was also a decision on which way the auto industry in the state was going to go.

"We were getting killed by Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, South Carolina, Ohio," Tresize said. "We had to decide whether we were about as a state the past, or the future.”

But state and local leaders are calling this announcement a win any way you look at it.

“It's gonna be a big victory for Michigan," Tresize said. "Yeah, we're back for sure. We're on that global championship stage again in the world is taking notice of us today and Lansing.”

Tresize said construction on the new battery plant will begin in the first quarter of this year and will take two years to complete.

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