Green Township Supervisor Jim Chapman confirmed there is a special meeting scheduled Monday when the applicant — which he would not confirm as Gotion but said is a Chinese battery manufacturer — will go before Green Township, Big Rapids Township and Mecosta County to apply for the tax break. The applicant will be at the meeting. He declined to disclose other details.
"We've been working hard not to release any other information," Chapman said.
Paul Bullock, Mecosta County controller/administrator, said in a statement:
"In conjunction with our partners at Big Rapids Charter Township, Green Charter Township, MCDC, The Right Place, and MEDC, we're actively working to make this extraordinary project a reality for Big Rapids. ... We look forward to sharing more about this once-in-a-century opportunity for Big Rapids area in the coming days."
Michigan electric utility Consumers Energy Co., which distributes electricity in Mecosta County and was approved less than a year ago to give a special economic development rate to very large businesses, also confirmed a major project is in the works.
"We are close to a potential partnership and transformation opportunity in the advanced manufacturing field in Big Rapids," Consumers CEO Garrick Rochow said. "As transformations of the automotive and other energy-intensive industries continue, we're enabling the state's manufacturing infrastructure to adapt, grow and thrive."
The site being considered for the battery plant is a shovel-ready parcel at the intersection of 18 Mile Road and 220th Avenue, which is partly in Green Township and partly in Big Rapids Township. The Big Rapids Township Airport Industrial Park is on the south side of the road, and the Green Township portion of the site is already zoned industrial.
"A site in the Big Rapids area that for the past 25 years has been assembled, developed and marketed for industrial development is being considered by one of the 10 largest advanced battery manufacturers in the world for a new battery production facility," Randy Thelen, CEO of The Right Place, a regional economic development organization in Grand Rapids, said in a statement. "The community has been prepared for an opportunity like this to materialize to utilize the infrastructure, airport, access to freeways and locally trained talent pool."
He said "all parties involved understand there are still numerous processes and steps to be taken before this project becomes a certainty. We remain hopeful to announce more details soon on this project that would position the region at the center of West Michigan's growing mobility and EV sector."
Ties to Volkswagen
A spokeswoman for Gotion, reached early Thursday in China, declined to comment on the company's reported plans in Michigan.
Gotion's mid-2022 financial report, released in August, said: "In the first half of 2022, the company expanded the layout of overseas production bases, the European Göttingen factory was successfully opened, and the plan for the construction of power batteries and supporting industrial bases in North America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and other overseas markets is steadily progressing."
The company was incorporated in the east China city of Hefei in 2006 and went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2015.
Volkswagen made investments in Gotion in 2020 and 2021, raising its stake in the latter to 26.5 percent. VW is now the largest shareholder of Gotion.
Under a cooperation agreement the two companies in July 2021, Gotion will produce battery cells for VW in China and Gottingen, Germany. According to Korean market research firm SNE Research, Gotion shipped 5.8 gigawatt hours of batteries in the first half of 2022, making it the fourth-largest EV battery maker in China.
In its first-half 2022 report, Gotion said its net profit rose 34 percent year to 64.6 million yuan ($9.1 million), while its revenue surged 143 percent to 8.6 billion yuan ($1.2 billion).
Yang Jian of Automotive News China contributed to this report.