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Michigan Governor Claims State Was Not Given Fair Shot At Ford's Blue Oval City Investment

Ford's Blue Oval City announcement sent shockwaves through the auto industry, but the plan is now facing early criticism from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer who claims Michigan was snubbed by the company.
Posted: September 29, 2021 - 8:40PM
Author: Carl Malek

Ford put the world on notice when it revealed a massive $11.4 billion investment that would build not only an all-new Battery Park in Kentucky but also an enormous complex in Tennesse that would be called "Blue Oval City" due in part to its near city-sized dimensions. However, an early criticism of the plan emerged, with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer claiming that the state was snubbed by the company when it was trying to find locations for both facilities.

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Ford representatives claim that the massive investment will help create 11,000 jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee. These new workers are needed to help assemble next-generation F-Series trucks and the battery packs that will help power Ford's all-electric sales plans. However, Ford is receiving heat for moving these projects to the southern U.S. instead of northern states.

An early voice that has delivered such criticism is Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who didn't mince words on her thoughts about Ford's decision not to give her state either of these facilities.

"I'm always looking to make Michigan more competitive and always eager to put solutions on the table, but we need a real opportunity to do that," stated Whitmer in remarks she made during a budget-focused press conference. "And that really wasn't the case here."

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While Whitmer's commitment to putting Michigan at the head of the table in discussions like Blue Oval City is undeniable, the state does have several key disadvantages that make themselves apparent when you look at things under a fine-tooth comb. A prominent one is that Michigan's industrial electricity rate is significantly higher than Tennessee and Kentucky, with the state's rate even surpassing the national average. When you factor in a facility that would be the size of Blue Oval City, that's massive use of electricity would produce an equally large bill for Ford.

In addition, Michigan's power grid is also less reliable than some states, with recent storms here in Metro Detroit shining a spotlight on just how vulnerable Michigan's power grid is to going down, mainly due to tree-related damage. Ford, for its part, released a separate statement after Whitmer's that clarified what the company looked for when selecting a site and why Michigan was ultimately not picked.

"We always consider Michigan and have invested more than $7 billion in our home state since 2016." "Location decisions for our new mega campus were based on several factors - starting with site size, shovel-readiness, and proximity to other EV sites, transportation, and other key services. Michigan did not have the types of sites needed for this project, so they were not a part of the formal bidding process."

As for Kentucky and Tennessee, they also offered Ford their form of incentives to help secure their bids. While Tennessee's proposed $500 million in incentives, while multiple media reports revealed that Kentucky offered Ford $250 million in forgivable loans, as well as a secondary $36 million investment for skills training.

Photo: Ford Motor Company

Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. In addition to his specialization with Ford, he grew up in a General Motors household and is extensively familiar with their products too. Contact Carl on Twitter at @CarlMalek3, on Instagram and Facebook for automotive news to send news tips.