Among the problems she has faced over management of the COVID pandemic and weird scandals, Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer is now taking heat over Ford’s recent announcement that it will opt for Tennessee and Kentucky locations for its new electric vehicle and battery plants. According to Ford, Michigan no longer meets the company’s criteria for new plant campuses.
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) recently said that he is left with “many questions” regarding Ford’s decision. He wants to know why Whitmer was not aware of Ford’s plans to expand and develop a new EV plant providing more than 11,000 new jobs. Walberg added that Ford’s decision comes when Michigan needs to encourage local manufacturers to remain in the state.
Ford’s CEO Jim Farley said that building in Kentucky and Tennessee came because “unique sites” provided many advantages. He added that he believed that if Michigan had a suitable site, it would have worked hard to “make a competitive bid.”
Walberg said he felt there could have been a way to work with utility providers to encourage Ford to build near its Dearborn headquarters. He said he does not yet understand why Ford was unwilling to “even contact the governor or her economic development team,” but he expected to find answers.
He added that he is frustrated that Whitmer vetoed several pieces of state legislation over the summer that were considered pro-business development.
Walberg also said that he believed Ford did not trust what Whitmer is likely to do to hinder development and increase costs across the board, including labor expenses. Because the company was ready to expand into EV manufacturing immediately, he said they were not likely willing to wait around to see how things would turn out with Michigan’s state government.
Last month, Whitmer told the Detroit News that she is “always looking” to make Michigan competitive, suggesting that Ford did not give her a “real opportunity” to bid for the EV expansion.