September 27, 2023

Marshall has lost roughly 2,000 jobs over the past 20 years, while its population remains relatively unchanged at 6,822 in 2020, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. It is estimated the battery plant will create 2,500 new jobs in the community. In return, the state and local entities are set to invest $1.7 billion in infrastructure grants and tax abatements in the project, with significant aid allocated for local road expansion and upgrades in water infrastructure.

The creation of jobs will boost the local economy and it is projected that the project will generate up to $1.57 billion in state tax revenue, Durian told Crain’s.

“It means more funding for public schools, more vibrancy in the community,” he said. “There will be more community wealth and all of those things are good whether you’re a farmer or not.”

Creating jobs in rural communities will be key for Michigan’s agricultural sector, said Chuck Lippstreu, president of the Michigan Agri-business Association. In a time when major agricultural producers, such as California, have been hindered by drought, Lippstreu sees water-rich Michigan as poised for growth. That potential, however, is hindered by population loss in rural communities.

“If we bring people into the communities, they build a life and a home and that has a broader positive impact on the ability of all employers to hire people,” Lippstreu said. “That has a downstream benefit effect on agriculture long term, especially at a time when agriculture is in a stark labor shortage.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, Michigan has experienced a yearslong labor shortage across a variety of industries. Lippstreu said that “stark” labor situation necessitates intervention.

“We need our state government to be innovative, to be creative, and frankly, to do all that it can to go out and identify, recruit and bring new employment opportunities to our state,” he said.

To have the desired economic impacts, though, Lippstreu said the community and Ford need to demonstrate a long-term commitment to the partnership.

“We have to be sure that we’re thoughtful about the economic development coming into our state. And at the same time, we need to be realistic about the challenges facing agriculture and facing Michigan,” Lippstreu said. “It’s a tough balance, but it’s one that we can meet.”

This article was originally published by Automotive News affiliate Crain’s Detroit Business.

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