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Dow Invests $294 Million in MI Battery Plant

A pair of initiatives by Dow Chemical Co. will bring hundreds of green jobs to the state, Michigan Economic Development Corp. confirmed to the Detroit News this week.

Dow Kokam MI LLC, a joint venture formed last year between Dow Chemical Co and South Korean partner TK Advanced Battery LLC, will construct a manufacturing facility in Midland for its lithium-polymer batteries for electric vehicles. The project will operate for at least the next 15 years. The facility entails a $294 million investment from Dow Kokam MI over the next three years and will create at least 320 full-time jobs by February 2014. The average weekly wage will be $730, with an additional $85 in weekly health care benefits.

Construction on the 400,000-square-foot structure is expected to begin in May. The project’s second phase will construct an identical facility, allowing the venture to power 60,000 electric vehicles. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has awarded the project an estimated $3.4 million in annual Michigan Business Tax abatements. Dow Kokam MI also will receive an estimated $4.3 million in annual property tax breaks.

The MEDC’s decision “is a very critical milestone,” said Dow Kokam MI spokeswoman Kristina Schnepf. “This puts us a step closer to being the first advanced battery facility to break ground in the state.”

Dow Chemical will partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is involved in producing carbon fibers, in a separate venture to develop a facility focused on low-cost carbon fiber for wind turbine blades and other projects. The project, valued at $20 million, will receive $10 million from Dow and $5 million from the Department of Energy. Dow has requested an additional $5 million from the Center of Energy Excellence, a statewide program to join companies, educational institutions and the state in developing alternative energy technology.

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