Big Rapids revival area is OK for a vehicle battery factory

MECOSTA COUNTY – The Big Rapids and Green Town Township Boards voted unanimously to approve the creation of a revival area in the Big Rapids Airport Industrial Park, along with properties in Green Township, at a joint meeting Monday evening.

Following the approval of the resolutions to establish the revival zone, the Mecosta County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to send the revival zone application to the state for approval.

At the September 26 meeting, residents, business owners, local officials, and representatives of major organizations and businesses urged endorsement of the Revival Zone, saying it is a ” incredible opportunity” for the region.

Ferris State University President Dr. Bill Pink told those in attendance that there are many communities across the country that would like to be in a position right now to have the opportunity to bring in a community partner like Gotion. , Inc.

“What a statement that makes to everyone in this community,” Pink said. “Other communities would yearn for the opportunity that you are about to be able to have this conversation and make this decision for the lifting of all ships in our community.”

Michelle Graham, Mecosta Township Supervisor and President of the Mecosta County Economic Development Corporation, told those in attendance that the cooperation between Right Place and MCED is something everyone can be proud of.

“This is one of the greatest economic benefits Mecosta County has ever had,” Graham said. “It will keep our young people in the community and bring quality jobs and other businesses to come to the area.”

Establishing the Revival Zone is the next step in a long process that could bring Gotion, Inc.’s battery component manufacturing facility to the Big Rapids area, said Randy Thelen, president and CEO of the management of The Right Place, Inc.

“The proposal you have in front of you tonight is the first step in the process,” Randy Thelen told the boards. “The 30-year revival area is a key part of the proposal. In the coming days, our MEDC partners will move this file forward. It is important to note that from a community perspective, this process has only just begun. There will be a series of things that will require local action and additional conversation.

The next step is for MEDC’s Michigan Strategic Fund board to vote to approve a formal set of tax incentives to offer Gotion, according to information provided to the pioneer. This meeting should take place soon, possibly next week.

Following MSF’s offer, the project team will begin negotiating the purchase of the land, which will include 500 acres in and around Big Rapids Industrial Park. It will also include the rezoning of certain plots.

Randy Thelen said they initially only considered industrial park ownership, but as they got to know the project and better understood the scope, they realized they needed more square footage, and the company currently has 500 acres under contract.

Once the land purchase agreement is finalized, the next step will be to establish a development agreement which will involve contracts approved by the planning commissions and the boards of directors, which define the rules, regulations, covenants and the policies of a development project for a specific period of time. .

The final steps would be for the company to submit a site plan for review and approval, then planning permissions and site construction can take place.


Gotion Vice President, Global Chuck Thelen told those in attendance that the company had gone through about 13 iterations of how it could make this project work, even pulling out of the project twice.

“When you hear people say it’s going fast, it actually took a really long time,” Chuck Thelen said. “We surveyed 40 sites in the United States. We narrowed them down to 22. I physically went through all of these sites and narrowed them down to 15, then seven, then three, and finally two, and Big Rapids is one of them.

They settled in Big Rapids for several reasons, he said, including proximity to sufficient sustainable energy and available skilled labor.

“We took federal information, state information and did our own study,” he said. “There are approximately 177,000 workers within a 45-minute drive. Within this 45 minute drive there are currently 45,000 people already in the manufacturing industry, and around 6,500 leave this area every day to work elsewhere. We are confident that labor will not be an issue.

Additionally, he said, the area has a senior technical college at Ferris State University.

“When I reviewed seven different colleges across the country, FSU was far superior for these certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degree programs — superior in capacity, in lab space, in number of teachers. For a technical college that will prepare people to work in our plant, we are confident that Ferris State University can handle it.

Plans for the facility will include a cathode plant and an anode plant, two key components of electric vehicle batteries.

The cathode facility will include two 550,000 square foot plants, with an investment of approximately $1.68 billion over five years. The installation of anodes will require two additional buildings – one of 460,000 square feet and the other of 520,000 square feet. The investment is expected to be approximately $658,000 million over five years.

“We are encouraged to receive support tonight from Green Charter Township, Big Rapids Charter Township and Mecosta County regarding the designation of the Renaissance Area for Gotion’s multi-billion dollar investment in the area,” said Randy Thelen, of The Right Place, Inc. the pioneer following the meeting. “There are still many steps to take before this project becomes a certainty, but it’s a great start to positioning the region at the center of West Michigan’s growing mobility and electric vehicle industry.”

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