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Greater Lansing officials fast track tax incentives to lure General Motors battery plant

Courtesy / General Motors

Local officials are fast-tracking tax breaks that aim to attract a General Motors electric vehicle battery factory to Greater Lansing. The $2.5 billion plant could create up to 750 jobs by 2025, its first year of operation, and as many as 1,700 jobs by 2027, according to documents submitted by the company to Lansing City Council.

Lansing and Delta officials OK’d a 25-year agreement Monday night allowing the city to provide services at the proposed site in exchange for splitting tax revenue with Delta Township, where the plant would be built on 590 acres. It's the same type of land-transfer agreement currently in place between Lansing and Delta for GM's Delta Township Assembly plant.

The transfer paves the way for additional tax incentives, the final local piece of which is up for Lansing City Council's approval during a special meeting Dec. 20. GM is seeking an 18-year renewable energy Renaissance Zone designation. The designation would abate all state education tax, personal and real property taxes as well as local corporate income taxes, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

People who worked at the plant would continue to pay Lansing's individual income tax, and that revenue would be shared between the city and Delta Township, said Bob Trezise, the CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, a regional economic development agency.

Additionally, the Lansing Board of Water & Light, a city-owned utility, is calling a special meeting Tuesday night to adopt a resolution authorizing a special service contract that could result in lowered electric rates for the EV battery plant.

Local officials must move quickly to assure GM it's open for business, City Council Member Patricia Spitzley said.

"The speed of business is the speed of business," Spitzley said, adding that Michigan got a "wake-up call" when Ford bypassed Detroit in favor of Kentucky and Tennessee for more than $11 billion in electric vehicle investment.

GM has made "no promises" regarding its next battery plant location, Trezise warned the City Council.

"There's not even winks or nods," he said.

But Council President Peter Spadafore says he believes Lansing's position is strong.

“We have two existing assembly plants here that make it prime for conversion to electric mobility," Spadafore said, referencing the Delta plant and GM's Grand River Assembly/Stamping plant in Lansing. "And we also have a very affordable place to live and set up your family.”

The area's "skilled and trained workforce" with experience in the automotive industry is an asset, said Delta Township Supervisor Ken Fletcher.

A General Motors spokeswoman declined to specify how many other locations are being considered.

"These projects are not approved and securing all available incentives will be critical for any business case to continue moving forward," spokeswoman Erin Davis wrote in an email.