Ford’s $3.5 billion battery plant project in Marshall draws mixed reactions from locals

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 10:15 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2023 at 11:55 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MARSHALL, Mich. (WILX) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a $1.3 billion supplemental spending plan on Wednesday, with half of the funds earmarked for a new Ford electric vehicle battery plant near Marshall in Calhoun County.

While the move is seen as a boon for the local economy, some Marshall residents are not thrilled about it.

“I don’t know where things got re-prioritized so that electric cars are more important than food,” said Barry Wayne Adams.

James Durian, CEO of the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, said Marshall has suffered from population loss over the last 20 years due to companies leaving the area, resulting in the loss of over 2,000 jobs.

“When you look at the population of Marshall, there has been a decline in population, which corresponds with the loss of jobs,” Durian said. “So, the Ford battery plant would replace those lost jobs and bring additional opportunities back to Marshall.”

Some opposing residents argue that the town doesn’t need new jobs and that farmland shouldn’t be used for such projects.

“I’m all for growth, we want growth, we want jobs,” said Emily Emersen-Rich. “We also have a lot of jobs available in this town, so to say that we don’t have jobs isn’t true.”

“It’s the destruction of perfectly good farmland, which was already producing agricultural crops,” Adams said.

Durian said they are working to preserve farmland and strike a balance between job creation and loss of farmland.

“There are over 10 million acres of available farmland in Michigan with over $3 million set aside to preserve that. It is a balance you strike,” Durian said. “I think it can be a win-win.”

Last month, Ford announced that they were investing $3.5 billion to construct the plant, where they will produce LFP batteries for the world’s leading LFP battery company, Contemporary Amperex Technology. Initial production is set to start in 2026. While the move is expected to bring jobs and growth to the area, it remains a contentious issue for some in Marshall.

Read next:

Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.