Governor Whitmer has announced two state Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) grants that will support a total of 1,525 new jobs and $3.5 billion of private investment in Chippewa and Oakland counties, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced.
“These transportation economic development investments will create more than 1,500 good-paying jobs and make communities across Michigan better places to live, work, and invest,” said Governor Whitmer. “The improvements in Oakland County will improve the flow of traffic around the forthcoming GM plant in Orion Township and the upgrades around the Carbide Dock Port in the Sault will ensure the flow of commerce and tourism through a major port in the UP can continue. Let’s keep working together on investments that make a real difference in people’s lives, create good-paying jobs, and grow the economy.”
The state Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) grant helps finance public highway, road, and street projects that are critical to the movement of people and products, and getting workers to their jobs, materials to growers and manufacturers, and finished goods to consumers.
Grant Recipient: Oakland County Road Commission
General Motors is a global company with a focus on advancing an all-electric future. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries, and its joint venture entities, sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun, and Wuling brands. To deliver the Ultium battery to the global GM portfolio, the company began searching for a site able to provide the needed infrastructure for their $3.47 billion investment.
The Orion Township plant location was selected after extensively reviewing expansion options in several states, with factors including land availability, local and state government support, available labor pool, and infrastructure. As part of discussions with state and local officials, the promise of infrastructure support was a strong factor in the overall decision to invest at the Orion Assembly Plant.
Road conditions around the Orion Assembly Plant posed a safety risk to anyone who uses the roads in the Lake Orion/Auburn Hills area. A permanent fix was needed, as the plant expansion will generate significant increases in commercial and passenger traffic with 1,500 new jobs created by 2026. In addition to potential safety risks presented by deteriorating road conditions, GM expressed concerns regarding material financial impact due to damages and delays sustained by suppliers, distributors, and others using the area roadways, as well as possible damage to product leaving the facility.
“On a project of this size and significance, collaboration is key and local, state and federal partners came together to make sure this transformational General Motor’s project in Orion Township moves forward smoothly,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “This plant will be a catalyst for the mobility industry of the future in Michigan and the region and the improvements in the infrastructure around the facility are essential to ensuring a safe and welcoming workplace for the thousands of people who will be employed at the plant.”
“Metro-Detroit is the home of America’s auto industry, where it is especially important that the quality of our roads keeps pace with the quality of our cars,” said state Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield). “This grant to the Oakland County Road Commission does both, helping improve our roads and supporting General Motors’ new electric battery production, bringing significant investment and creating more jobs in our region.”
“Investing in site readiness, making the roads safer for all — these are important tools in our economic development toolbox and I am happy to see it yield more jobs for Oakland County,” said state Representative Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield), Chair of the House Economic Development and Small Business Committee.
“The MDOT grant coming to Oakland County is going to provide permanent infrastructure enhancements — including road improvements — to the community,” said state Representative Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac). “Plus, the funding for this project will help provide the necessary support for the GM electric vehicle plant in Orion to keep moving forward, which means further economic growth for the area. It is clear that Michigan is investing in initiatives that will ensure we remain a premier leader in the automotive industry and a forerunner in the innovative technology sector. When Michigan invests in manufacturing, we invest in people.”
“Dependable roads and infrastructure are a critical piece of successful operations at Orion Assembly,” said Mike Trevorrow, GM’s vice president, North America Manufacturing. “This grant will help rebuild roads which will benefit GM, our suppliers and the residents in the community.”
With TEDF funding and $7 million in Fiscal Year 2023 U.S. House Appropriations Committee Community Project Funding to go towards the project, the Road Commission of Oakland County, in partnership with Orion Township, will rebuild the road, milling down to the subbase, and replacing concrete curb and gutter on three roads surrounding the GM Orion Assembly Plant. The project limits include Brown Road between Jamm Road and Giddings Road; Giddings Road from Brown Road to Silverbell Road; and Silverbell Road from Giddings Road to M-24. Additional work on Brown Road includes the addition of a center left-turn lane from North Atlantic Boulevard to just west of the intersection at Brown Road and Giddings Road. This will create a consistent five-lane cross section on this project segment of Brown Road. The TEDF Category A grant program will provide a total of $5 million in funding across the three project areas.
Grant Recipient: City of Sault Ste. Marie
The Carbide Dock Port in Sault Ste. Marie is currently being reconstructed after having been decommissioned in 2017. As a result of the dock reconstruction, Northern Sand and Gravel, Central Marine Logistics/Inter Ship, and Morton Salt will be expanding their employment and services.
Northern Sand and Gravel is a ready-mix concrete and aggregate manufacturer based in Sault Ste. Marie planning to use the reconstructed Carbide Dock to receive aggregate materials. They will need all-season roads to deliver the aggregate material from the dock to their plant on 3-Mile Road and plan to add two jobs.
Central Marine Logistics is a coastal and Great Lakes passenger transportation company based in Indiana with a location in Cooks, Mich. They plan to use the reconstructed Carbide Dock for Great Lakes cruise ships and bulk cargo carriers, both of which require all-season roads to transport fuel, waste, and supplies to and from the docked ships. The dock access will increase the number of cruise ships stopping in Sault Ste Marie, bringing an additional 2,900 tourists per year. From the dock tourists will have the opportunity to be transported to various locations around the Upper Peninsula, including downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Tahquamenon Falls, and casinos. The company reports that 90 percent of these visitors are not Michigan residents.
Morton Salt is an international mining company, which provides road salt to road agencies in the upper peninsula. Currently, the salt is being transported by truck from a mine in Marinette, Wis. Once the dock and road work are complete the company will begin shipping salt from a mine in Detroit, unloading the shipments at the new dock, and transporting the materials to customers, requiring an all-season route from the dock to I-75. This change is expected to add 25 new jobs.
“Improved road infrastructure is important for safe, efficient, and timely ice control salt deliveries to our customers at MDOT,” said Leena Kaleva, manager of Bulk Distribution Services in Ontario and the Great Lakes, Morton Salt Inc.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie will extend Ord Street from Portage Avenue north to the Carbide Dock and Alford Park. The City of Sault Ste Marie will also extend Salmon Run Way from the eastern terminus at Lake Superior State University Center for Freshwater Research and Education to the Ord Street extension. Additionally, Ord Street will be resurfaced from Portage Street to Easterday Avenue. All roads would be constructed to all-season standards, allowing trucking of heavy materials from the dock to I-75. The TEDF Category A grant program will provide $845,898 of funding to the project.
“The Carbide Dock Port and connecting the Easterday Avenue truck route will be economic drivers for the City of Sault Ste. Marie. With the help of MDOT, through their Economic Development Category A funding program, we will be able to finish Salmon Run Way and extend Ord Street to complete an all-season haul route in the Upper Peninsula,” said Brian Chapman, city manager, City of Sault Ste Marie. “This funding is critical not just for the city, but for multiple counties that receive salt shipments, aggregate, and benefit from cruise ship tourism. Having a roadway of this caliber will increase our import/export power and combat supply chain issues.”
About Transportation Economic Development Fund Grants
Enacted in 1987 and reauthorized in 1993, TEDF “Category A” or “Targeted Industries Program” grants provide state funding for public roadway improvements that allow road agencies to respond quickly to the transportation needs of expanding companies and eliminate inadequate roadways as an obstacle to private investment and job creation. Eligible road agencies include the Michigan Department of Transportation, county road commissions, cities, and villages. More information about the program is available online at www.Michigan.gov/TEDF.