LG Chem continues to draw criticism over misused federal stimulus money
President Obama at LG Chem in Holland Autoblog Green
Caroline MacGregor February 20, 2013 | WGVU
"This is a symbol of where Michigan's going, where Holland is going, where America’s
The words of
President Obama in 2010 during a groundbreaking ceremony in Holland for LG Chem, a
plant expected to produce enough lithium ion batteries to supply 60-thousand
electric vehicles by 2013.
But it didn’t
quite work out that way. LG Chem hasn’t sold any batteries. It hasn’t exactly helped
that GM has purchased battery cells for the Chevrolet Volt from South Korea.
2009, LG Chem Michigan was awarded a 150 million dollar federal grant and local
and state tax credits of 175 million. But with no batteries being sold, workers
at the Holland plant found themselves on rotating furloughs and in attempts to
keep them busy, frustrated company officials had staff volunteer at
organizations like Habitat for Humanity. When workers were also seen
playing board games and watching movies, that fact, along with the discovery that 1.6
million had been paid to workers to prevent layoffs, prompted an audit by the
Dept of Energy’s Inspector General. LG Chem has since repaid 842 thousand to
the federal government.
statement, Gregory Friedman, the DOE inspector general said LG Chem Michigan used
money that failed to benefit the project. LG Chem released its own statement
saying the company regrets the situation and has taken action to fully comply
with their use of grant funding. LG Chem Michigan is acutely aware of the
disappointment among workers, team members and the community resulting from market-driven
“Just a few years ago American businesses manufactured only two percent of the world's advanced batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles but because of place like this in five years we'll have up to 40 percent of the world's capacity.”
Huizenga, meanwhile, is calling foul and wants the government to conduct audits
of all companies that receive federal stimulus money. He claims he and other
lawmakers have been left in the dark. Huizenga says former US Rep Pete Hoekstra was publicly called out by the president at the groundbreaking ceremony for voting against the project.
It has also
come to light that three contractors have filed liens against LG Chem for money
still owed to them. Johnson Control,
Andy J. Egan Co., and Circuit Electric Inc. filed the liens which total around
260 thousand dollars.
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The governor was joined by Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, and a couple dozen supporters to cart boxes of petitions into the state Bureau of Elections.
Snyder says he intends to run on his record and the state’s improving economy.
“We said we going to do a lot of things, and we did and Michigan’s the comeback state, and we should be proud of that, but what I would say is, let’s build on that,” he said. “Let’s keep going. Let’s go even faster and show an improvement in our economy. More opportunities for people.”
Democrats are trying to make the tax on pension income and school spending campaign issues. Former Congressman Mark Schauer is expected to file petitions tomorrow (Fri.) to appear on the Democratic ballot. No other candidates have filed or announced plans to run in either primary, which would clear the way for Snyder and Schauer to face each other in November.