Fears over a proposed battery plant in Mecosta County took center stage nationally this week after some new concerns were aired.
The proposed battery plant has been the center of controversy for months now over concerns about the impact it would have on the local community. Concerns over impacts on the environment, local manufacturing, and human rights have been discussed with this plant proposal.
Now, all of that is background noise as new concerns emerged.
Jim Chapman, supervisor of Green Charter Township, said the township has been busy fielding calls, and a lot have been about concerns that Chapman said were way off the mark.
“I took a phone call today. Wanted to talk about how the plant was going in, taking up 100 feet of space along the river. Another one wanted to talk about how the rail transport of this, the product, when we don’t have rail here. You know, as far as the footage, I mean, we’re back a better mile from the river,” said Chapman.
Another concern is the claim that Gotion has an allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party. Gotion Vice President of North American operations Chuck Thelen said those claims are baseless.
“I’m surprised that people are making the claims as wildly as they are. The other claim that we’re going to inundate the rapids with 250 migrant workers from China. That makes no sense. We will bring our centers of expertise, experts to help set up the equipment and the process. That will probably be somewhere between 20 to 50 people,” said Thelen.
He said Gotion is a publicly traded international company, founded in 2015.
“Over the next week, I plan to do a number of interviews and and press releases to try to say what the truth is, because the truth has not been out there yet,” said Thelen.
Thelen said Gotion and Green Charter Township plan to do better to refute those accusations and be more transparent.
“We’ve been a little lacking in that, and I will admit that’s our fault. But we’re going to fix that problem right now. Now that we were far enough down the due diligence path, we can be a little more forthcoming. So we will have those conversations,” said Thelen.
Thelen said he looks to another instance when a foreign entity - “Ice Mountain” - wanted to put a plant in Stanwood.
“There was huge blowback. They’ve been there now for 20 years and they’re a fantastic contributor to the community there. They have good paying jobs and a good product that a lot of people use. There’s never been a water issue,” said Thelen.
Gotion said they’ll be doing other events around the state as they continue pitching the battery plant. There is an informational meeting planned at Ferris State University on April 5.
We also heard from Ferris State University President, Bill Pink. He said they have not had any meeting about housing anyone from Gotion.
To see his response posted on YouTube, click on this link.
Gotion, North America Manufacturing released this statement:
Gotion High Tech is a publicly traded international organization with a diverse board of executive directors including citizens of Germany, USA and China. Within the Gotion Inc north america organization, who is responsible for big rapids, michigan plant ownership, there is no ccp organization influence. No person on the leadership team is a ccp member. There is no ccp organization or influence to the na operation. There is not a slim chance of influence of any political party to Gotion Inc. while we follow regional and federal regulations and requirements within all of our North America facilities that are in operation since 2015. GOTION INC has current operations in California and Ohio servicing NA customers and is on contract with the Department of Energy USABC to assist establishment of NA battery standards.— Chuck Thelen, Gotion Inc., VP North America Manufacturing