GRAND RAPIDS — A pair of Michigan townships and Mecosta County gave Gotion Inc. the go-ahead on a property-tax-free Renaissance Zone for its proposed $2.4 billion battery plant near Big Rapids.
Leaders in Green Township, Big Rapids Township and Mecosta County voted unanimously Monday evening to send the Renaissance Zone application, prepared by economic development group The Right Place, to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The application proposes to create a 30-year Renaissance Zone free from property taxes on 523 acres spanning both townships.
A date has not yet been set for the MEDC's Michigan Strategic Fund to consider the Renaissance Zone application.
Gotion, a Chinese subsidiary headquartered in Silicon Valley, makes electronics, battery packs and other energy storage technology for electric vehicles. Volkswagen is its parent company's largest shareholder, with a 26.5 percent stake.
Gotion's approval for a Renaissance Zone would help defray the cost of the factory, a development it says would create 2,350 jobs over the next decade. Designating the area as a Renaissance Zone would save Gotion an estimated $13 million in property taxes annually, according to the application.
Township and county leaders said the project would be pivotal for Big Rapids.
Green Township Supervisor Jim Chapman called it "an exercise in democracy" bringing together three separate boards for Monday's special meeting to vote on the project. About 20 speakers shared largely positive feedback during the public comment period, he said.
"The public was very, very supportive. There were questions, as there should be, about environmental issues ... (but) I was happy with the answers that came through," Chapman said.
Paul Bullock, Mecosta County controller and administrator, said he was "delighted" to see three local government units come together to "act in the best interest" of the community.
"I was really proud of them," he said.
Randy Thelen, president and CEO of The Right Place, said in an emailed statement that he was encouraged by Monday's "yes" vote.
"We are encouraged to receive support tonight from Green Charter Township, Big Rapids Charter Township and Mecosta County regarding the Renaissance Zone designation for Gotion's multibillion-dollar investment in the area," he said in the statement. "As well, we applaud all our community partners who have invested time and resources to champion this effort. There are still numerous steps to be taken before this project becomes a certainty, but this is a terrific start toward positioning the region at the center of West Michigan's growing mobility and EV sector."