Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her state wasn't given a "real opportunity" to pitch Ford Motor Co. on land, labor and tax incentives for the multibillion-dollar electric vehicle and battery assembly plants the automaker intends to build in Tennessee and Kentucky.
The Democratic governor on Wednesday pushed back on suggestions that Michigan couldn't compete for the $11.4 billion Ford and battery maker SK Innovation plan to invest in the massive projects.
"Being the primary domicile, Michigan is always going to be able to put a competitive alternative on the table when we are given an opportunity to," Whitmer said. "And we look forward to future investments and (Ford) looking to Michigan first and giving us the opportunity to really put a robust package on the table."
Whitmer said there were "probably a lot of factors" that went into Ford's decision to locate the new battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky.
She downplayed Michigan's average electricity rates for industrial customers, which are about 2 cents per kilowatt hour higher than Tennessee and Kentucky.
"It wasn't a state selection, it looked more like a site selection," Whitmer said. "But in terms us having tools that we need to be competitive, I'm always looking to make Michigan more competitive and always eager to put solutions on the table.
"But we need a real opportunity to do that — and that really wasn't the case here," the governor added.
Whitmer's remarks gave greater clarity to comments a day earlier by Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Quentin Messer Jr., who said the state "was not actively involved" in trying to lure Ford's investment in the Great Lakes State.
"We are always in conversations with Ford, but we were not actively involved," Messer told reporters.