Saint Joe County leaders approve plans to move forward with GM battery plant
SAINT JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- Unanimous passage across the board, approving a 10-year tax abatement and development agreement with General Motors for an electric vehicle battery plant in New Carlisle.
The final vote came from the Saint Joseph County Council Tuesday night with a 9-0 vote in favor.
“When you’re talking about partnering with General Motors for a product that’s going to definitely affect our future as far as the car industry is concerned, transportation industry, I could not be more elated,” says St. Joe County Councilman Rafael Morton.
It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, as the council has previously voted in favor of the project when it was first proposed by General Motors and Ultium Cells back in September.
This time around, county leaders say this project is stronger, about a billion dollars stronger.
“Three and a half billion dollars of investment in Saint Joe County,” Economic Devlopment Director for St. Joe County Bill Schalliol explains. “That’s huge, probably one of the biggest projects we’ll see come through the county in years.”
The only concern brought to the table was that filling 1,600 jobs seems like a daunting task, especially in a community as small as New Carlisle's.
“My concern is based largely on the change in the climate of the workforce, not just in Saint Joe County, but all across the country,” Morton shares.
It’s a fear echoed by New Carlisle residents.
“We’re going to get 2,000 employees out here?” questions New Carlisle business owner Sharon Petersen. “Good luck with that.”
Representatives from General Motors say part of its unique plan to fill those positions is to reach out to local colleges and even high schools to recruit workers.
“I really feel confident that their efforts will bring to fruition the fulfillment of all these positions,” Morton says.
Project leaders say after Tuesday’s discussions they're feeling hopeful about the decision.
“I feel that we’re pretty comfortable where this is headed and I think GM will make the business case here,” Schalliol admits. “They’ve been working with us for almost two and a half years, so they wouldn’t have spent this much time and energy if they didn’t think we were the place to do business.”
County officials expect General Motors to announce the location of the plant by the end of June with construction at the chosen site beginning this year.