Michigan took a huge step toward fortifying its place at the center of the electric vehicle (EV) revolution securing a $3.5 billion investment by Ford to establish its latest EV battery plant in Marshall, Mich.
BlueOval Battery Park Michigan will create 2,500 high-paying jobs, building a robust new economic engine for both Calhoun County and all of southwest Michigan. The 2.5-million-square-foot facility will also serve as the platform for a groundbreaking global partnership in the technologies that are powering the auto and mobility industry into the future and as a magnet for further investment in Michigan’s EV supply chain.
Providing the competitive environment that secured BlueOval Battery Park Michigan demonstrates to the world how Michigan’s economic development community and bipartisan political leadership can come together to extend the state’s crucial pole position in the worldwide mobility industry. As carmakers transition to electric propulsion, Michigan has pivoted into a kind of leadership similar to what industry pioneers such as Henry Ford, Willy Durant and Walter Chrysler provided in the last century.
“This generational investment by an iconic American company will uplift local families, small businesses and the entire community, and help our state continue leading the future of mobility and electrification,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared in February 2023.
Local support for the project extends beyond downtown Marshall, with business leaders in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo also endorsing the plan. Businesses throughout the region also stand to benefit as the plant’s annual payroll of hundreds of millions of dollars spreads spending through local restaurants, grocery stores, hardware stores, shops and other small businesses.
“This [is an] exciting announcement [that] will help replenish the thousands of jobs lost to our community in recent years and pump millions into local small businesses,” said Caryn Drenth, a Marshall resident and owner of Living MI and Handle & Hinge stores in downtown Marshall.
Bud Dunn is the vice president of Atlas Sales Inc., a local family-owned distributor in Kalamazoo. He shared that his family has “seen the difficulties faced over and past few years by mom-and-pop restaurants and neighborhood taverns. This development will mean more people spending more money in the area, helping those businesses that need it.”
Ford’s presence in Marshall will help the state maintain its position as a leader in the automobility space, but more importantly, the project will promote the economic prosperity of the Marshall area. As Mark Behnke, mayor of Battle Creek, said, “This project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that will continue to benefit our area for decades.”
The path to success for BlueOval Battery Park Michigan required foresight on behalf of the Marshall economic development officials and an aggressive approach to site readiness in Lansing. The 1,900-acre site west of Marshall has been envisioned and prepared by economic development leaders as a potential location for a large industrial plant for more than 50 years.
When automakers around the world began scouting sites for investment to make EVs and batteries a few years ago, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Whitmer administration got to work. In December 2021, they created the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund to support transformational economic development projects. Soon after, Michigan won several new commitments; last year alone, Michigan attracted more than $14 billion in EV and battery investments from global names including General Motors, Ford, LG Energy Solution, Gotion and Our Next Energy, all while developing programs to train and employ the next generation of talent in the EV and mobility sector. As a result of the state’s efforts and recent wins, CNBC recognized Michigan as one of three states poised to “dominate” EV battery manufacturing in the United States by 2030.
These investments are helping keep Michigan as the most vital cog in an increasingly competitive space. EV manufacturers’ multi-billion-dollar plans for Michigan ensure that the historic home of automotive manufacturing in the United States will retain that status as the industry completes its transition to electrification.