MARSHALL, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - On Tuesday, $65 million was approved as an incentive for development around a Ford battery plant in Marshall, but obstacles remain in front of the project.
"Why would you approve $65 million to move forward with a site that is in serious question?" asked Glenn Kowalske, who belongs to the Committee for Marshall-Not the Megasite.
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board voted on Tuesday to allocate the funding incentives. The money would go toward purchasing about 800 acres of land across from the site and provide additional support for the development of that area. It's a move Kowalke and his committee are very against.
"You know, we're not just a place to drop a plant. We're a community. So for the state to just drop 3,000 acres of industrial development on a community without their input just seems wrong," said Kowalske.
Kowalske's concerns are echoed by State Rep. Andrew Beeler.
"Right now, this project has a bridge to nowhere written all over it," Beeler said. "I mean, we are legitimately spending tens of millions of dollars on site preparation for a project that might not even happen. This is exactly what taxpayers hate about government. It's tremendously frustrating. I'm frustrated on behalf of the taxpayer."
Ford announced the pause in construction of the battery plant on Monday without specifically noting the UAW strike or the backlash from the Marshall community.
"Some people think that's a temporary thing specific to the UAW negotiations. I happen to believe, I think there's all kinds of speculation, but it's very plausible Ford is rethinking the whole idea," Kowalske said.
A spokesman for Ford did not comment on the new incentive money on Wednesday, and there's no other indication from the company that it intends to pull out of Marshall. For Beeler, Ford's pause is an indication of larger problems.
"I think there's so much more at play here than the UAW," he said. "I think this is Ford and the private sector at large telling us that Michigan is getting harder for us to operate competitively in, so that's what we need to be focused on."
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