News Story

Ford Marshall plant dubbed worst deal of 2023

Taxpayers spent $1.7B; governor’s allies ran expensive smear campaign against dissenters

Ford Motor Co.’s BlueOval Battery Park in Marshall is the worst economic development deal of 2023, the Center for Economic Accountability has announced.

The center “exists to change the way Americans think and feel about economic development in their communities,” according to its website. In its new report, the center, which is led by former Mackinac Center staffer John Mozena, explains that the deal required a pledge of $1.7 billion from Michigan taxpayers, to be paid through direct cash giveaways and tax abatements.

But the center takes special aim at the aggressive and dishonest attempts by project backers to manufacture public consent and to scare off dissenters.

Residents who spoke out against the project were sent postcards showing their faces crossed out by red Xs, according to a Detroit Free Press report. Reporter Dave Boucher called the threats “part of a larger campaign to shout down opponents of” the project, funded by “dark money” tied to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Democratic Party’s national apparatus.

“The reported use of political consultants to run a smear campaign against skeptical local residents set Michigan’s subsidies for Ford’s Marshall battery plant apart from all the other terrible corporate welfare deals across the country,” said Mozena in a statement accompanying the award announcement.

“It’s one thing for politicians to use fuzzy math to throw massive amounts of public money at a giant corporation so they can take credit with voters for so-called ‘job creation’; we see that all the time,” Mozena added. “This award was nailed down for Michigan when a governor’s political cronies reportedly pushed out campaign-style mailers and robocalls against average, everyday people who dared to exercise their fundamental right to ask their elected officials for straight answers to questions that mattered to their community.”

In the end, the $3.5 billion project was put on pause during the UAW strike. After the strike ended, Ford announced a scaled-back version of the BlueOval Battery Park: a $2.2 billion investment, with 1,700 jobs to be created rather than 2,500.

State officials insist that state incentives for the project will roll back in commensurate fashion.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.