Government documents obtained exclusively by The Midwesterner break down how an additional $750 million being sought by the Gretchen Whitmer administration would be spent if the Legislature green-lights the massive expenditure for a Ford-China alliance slated for 1,900 acres in Marshall.
The documents, which include a summary of expenses including land acquisition, site improvements, utilities, building inspections, and rail improvements, would be on top of the $1 billion reported 10 days ago. In the initial round, “approved incentives include a grant of up to $210 million from the state’s Critical Industries Program and a Michigan Strategic Fund Designated Renaissance Zone valued at $772 million that will reduce real and personal property taxes for 15 years,” the Detroit News reported.
The documents obtained by The Midwesterner show land acquisition totaling $75 million, as well as $224.7 million for “site improvements” to be completed by Walbridge.
The document indicates Walbridge would conduct “tree clearing,” which must be done at a particular time “due to an endangered bat species that could roost there during some months”.
$330 million is allotted to state road improvements, $5 million for “Building inspections fees for up to 5 years,” and $15 million to Norfolk Southern, the embattled rail company that recently suffered derailments in Ohio and Michigan.
The document, which says is “subject to NDA (non-disclosure agreement),” indicates the speed with which the Whitmer administration is hoping the funds will be allocated by the Legislature.
“It is vital that funding to enter into the contract with the service provider be immediately available to avoid construction delays or a missed construction season”, it states.
On Wednesday, only the potential expenditure to Norfolk Southern was made public.
“It’s always a bad idea to expect taxpayers to foot the bill for corporate welfare projects – but this proposal is particularly egregious. Norfolk Southern has had two dangerous train derailments in the Midwest this month – one in Michigan and another that leaked hazardous chemicals that are still causing serious concerns for families in Ohio. Yet Gov. Whitmer is asking us to ignore all that and hand over taxpayer dollars to help Norfolk Southern grow in Michigan,” DeSana said in a statement.
“Until a full investigation of the Norfolk Southern derailments in Ohio and Michigan is complete, I can’t believe we’re even discussing appropriating $15,000,000 to expand their operations in Michigan,” state Rep. Andrew Fink (R) told The Midwesterner.
Norfolk Southern may not even be seeking the corporate welfare.
“Company is not certain when they will be ready to discuss rail or when rail may be needed,” the breakdown says.
Another document obtained by The Midwesterner shows the other corporate projects the Whitmer administration is supporting with taxpayer funds.
The Marshall project is the second that involves communist China.
Gotion, referred to as “Project Elephant” in the documents, is a Chinese battery maker establishing a foothold in the state. It will be receiving $715 million in tax incentives and taxpayer cash, according to Automotive News, to build a plant in Big Rapids.
It is not clear what will happen to the Marshall project if the additional funds are not allocated “immediately” or at all.
“What may seem as a nominal delay in funding availability could have a significant impact on project timeline that extends far beyond the delay, the internal document warns.