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MEDC Approves Incentives for EV-related Companies to Move into Detroit

January 24, 2024

The Detroit News
Candice Williams
Jan. 23, 2024

The governing body of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. on Tuesday approved incentives for numerous projects, including two developments for electric vehicle-related companies planning to set up shop in Detroit.

The Michigan Strategic Fund board awarded nearly $12.7 million in tax incentives to USA Fortescue Piquette LLC. The global green energy, metals, and technology company plans to invest $210 million to revitalize an old facility at 530 and 601 Piquette for its U.S. Advanced Manufacturing Center. The factory will sit in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood and is expected to create up to 600 manufacturing and engineering jobs.

The board also approved Tuesday a $1.5 million performance-based grant for German EV infrastructure company EcoG to open its U.S. headquarters in Corktown. According to the company, the project is expected to generate $14.4 million in private investments and create 45 high-wage jobs.

The arrival of the companies in Detroit comes as the city moves toward becoming an EV hub with Ford Motor Co. building an electric- and autonomous-vehicle campus in Corktown.

Fortescue’s first battery assembly line is expected to be installed in the first half of 2025 with production lines ramping up to 2030, officials said.

“Fortescue’s Advanced Manufacturing Center will breathe fresh life into the birthplace of the automotive industry,” Fortescue Energy CEO Mark Hutchinson said in a statement following the vote. “We are committed to investing in the next generation of green manufacturing projects that will help decarbonize business and heavy industry, and in turn create a strong future for manufacturing jobs in the United States.”

The incentives approved Tuesday for Fortescue are: a $9 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant, a 15-year, 100% state essential services assessment exemption valued at $1.3 million and state tax capture valued at $2.37 million for the reimbursement of brownfield activities at the site.

Mayor Mike Duggan thanked the Michigan Strategic Fund for its support of the project.

“Fortescue’s decision to locate in Detroit to develop its new Advanced Manufacturing Center adds to our city’s momentum in attracting sustainability and clean energy investments and the good-paying jobs they bring,” Duggan said. “It also is another major piece of the revitalization taking place on this stretch of Piquette Street, along with the redevelopment of the Fisher Body 21 and Studebaker plants into hundreds of units of new mixed-income housing. We are grateful to the Michigan Strategic Fund for its support of this project.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also acknowledged the project Tuesday.

“Report after report shows that Michigan is leading the future of advanced manufacturing and clean energy” she said in a statement. “Fortescue’s expansion in Michigan and so many of the other investments we are competing for and winning are helping us make communities across our state better places to live, work, and invest. Let’s keep our foot on the accelerator and keep delivering on the issues that make a real difference in people’s lives so anyone can ‘make it’ in Michigan.”

In Corktown, EcoG’s U.S. headquarters will be housed in the historic Book Depository Building on Ford’s Michigan Central. EcoG develops hardware and software solutions for interoperable EV charging stations. The company was launched from a Techstars Mobility Accelerator in Detroit in 2017.

“Right now there is unprecedented momentum behind the EV transition in the US,” Joerg Heuer, CEO and Co-Founder of EcoG, said in a statement. “EcoG’s solutions are acting as the catalyst for manufacturers in the US making it simple to introduce American-built products into the EV charging market and transforming the EV charging landscape across the country. We’re excited to contribute to this next phase from our new office in Detroit. We admire Michigan’s strong drive to transform the mobility industry and are excited to collaborate with other innovation leaders out of Michigan Central.”

Whitmer also applauded EcoG’s project in Corktown, saying: “We’re thrilled to welcome this $14.4 million investment from EcoG, creating 45 high-wage jobs and securing the future of mobility and electrification right here in Michigan. Together, we are bringing critical supply chains and investments back home, proving that anyone can ‘make it’ in Michigan. Thanks to announcements like today’s by EcoG, Michigan will remain a global leader in the future of mobility and electrification.”

The board also approved on the west side of the state a $2 million performance-based grant for B & L Systems LLC, doing business as Fifth Wheel Freight. The Kentwood-based third-party logistics and transportation provider plans to invest up to $40 million and add up to 352 jobs as it expands its operations, according to a MEDC briefing memo.

In addition to the new approvals Tuesday, the board voted to amend a previously approved incentive, combining the Michigan Business Development Program and Jobs Ready Michigan Program under one $3 million MBDP grant agreement for Global Life Sciences Solutions USA LLC.

The company is retrofitting a 168,000-square-foot development in Muskegon Charter Township to manufacture resins for use in biological, pharmaceutical and diagnostic and medical products, according to a briefing memo.