Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has come under fire recently after Ford announced it will open electric vehicle and battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky because Michigan did not meet the criteria for the company’s new campuses.
Michigan Republican Rep. Tim Walberg told FOX Business the decision “leaves a lot of questions.”
“Why was the governor not aware of Ford’s desires to expand and build an EV plant that would provide, as we see right now, over [11,000] jobs?” Walberg asked. “How did this happen under Gov. Whitmer’s watch, especially in a time when Michigan, because of lockdowns … has been challenged economically, and we need to encourage people to stay in the state, to come to the state and expand in the state?”
Ford CEO Jim Farley cited “unique sites” in Kentucky and Tennessee “that were large, shovel ready with many other advantages.”
“If a MI site had met our criteria, we know the state & DTE would have worked extremely hard to make a competitive bid,” Farley tweeted last month.
Walberg said the Michigan governor should have known about concerns over the cost of electricity and energy in the state.
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He explained he would think there would be a way, working with electric and energy providers, to encourage the company that is headquartered in Dearborn.
“Why, for some reason, they were unwilling to even contact the governor or her economic development team, I think that leaves a lot of questions,” Walberg told FOX Business. “I can’t answer them yet, but I hope we find the answers because it shouldn’t have happened.”
Whitmer suggested last month that Ford didn’t give the state a “real opportunity” to compete for the EV facilities.
“I’m always looking to make Michigan more competitive,” Whitmer said, according to the Detroit News.
The congressman said there “certainly are means by which (the state) could have the land space made available” and “given economic development tools to Ford.”
“I can’t conceive that we wouldn’t,” he said.
The congressman also expressed that it is “frustrating” Whitmer vetoed several pieces of pro-business legislation over the summer.
“I think that, at the very least, Ford looked at it and said, ‘You know, it’s probably a little longer period of time for the state of Michigan and its governmental leadership to get their act together, so we’re going to go where there’s a better opportunity right now,'” he explained.
The congressman also touched on the governor’s announcement that would require prevailing wage for all governmental construction contracts and explained how Ford may have concerns over that possibly increasing cost and not adding enhancements as far as quality.
“That’s another issue that I think possibly in the mindset of Ford, they say, ‘We don’t know what this governor will do. We don’t trust that she will be in our corner to assist us and so we’re just going to look another way.'”
In a statement to FOX Business, a Whitmer spokesperson highlighted a recent Ford plan to add around $250 million in spending in the state and add 450 jobs at three Michigan facilities.
“These ongoing investments build on Ford’s continued commitment to electrifying the future of mobility in Michigan with the Ford Ion Park announced in Romulus this past July, and its transformation of the historic Michigan Central Station into an innovation hub for the company’s future of transportation,” said Otie McKinley, spokesperson for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation & Travel Michigan.