Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin told Ford thanks, but no thanks to a potential $3.5 billion battery plant over the car maker’s partnership with China.
The plant, under consideration for Pittsylvania County in the southwestern part of Old Dominion, would have made lithium iron phosphate batteries for electric vehicles and employed as many as 2,500 workers. The company, which had not made a final decision, was believed to be considering building the plant in partnership with Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology before the Republican governor scuttled the deal last month.
“The consortium of Ford and CATL were hoping to build a plant, as reported and confirmed by Ford, where Ford would build the building, but a company that is majorly influenced by the Chinese Communist Party was going to operate the plant, and the employees were going to work for the Chinese Communist Party controlled company,” Youngkin said Friday. “They were going to use that in order to try to tap into taxpayer benefits at state level as well as the federal level that were specifically designated for non-Chinese communist party entities.” Youngkin told reporters he was uncomfortable with a CCP-connected company benefiting from Virginia tax dollars, adding that he felt the deal’s structure was “a bit deceptive.”
Youngkin stands against communist China but Whitmer is “vying” for the business.
Whitmer has never understood economic development which has led to massive job losses and an exodus from Michigan. She courts the CCP out of desperation. https://t.co/yp3eJL0LTb
— Tudor Dixon (@TudorDixon) January 18, 2023
Democratic state lawmakers blasted Youngkin for spurning the deal and accused the first-term governor of bashing China to further his potential White House ambitions. Youngkin has not indicated he is contemplating a 2024 White House bid, but his stunning 2021 victory in the key blue state drew national attention.
“To deny [people in the community] jobs because you’re in last place in Republican presidential primaries [is] gubernatorial malpractice,” Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I mean, this is clearly just obvious to me that the governor’s in some kind of out-China-bashing-contest with [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis and Governor Greg Abbott out of Texas.”
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said Ford’s partner is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, and was therefore not welcome in the state.
“While Ford is an iconic American company, it became clear that this proposal would serve as a front for the Chinese Communist party, which could compromise our economic security and Virginians’ personal privacy,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Virginians can be confident that companies with known ties to the Chinese Communist Party won’t receive a leg up from the Commonwealth’s economic incentive packages. When the potentially damaging effects of the deal were realized, the plant proposal never reached a final discussion stage.”
Ford is now believed to be considering building the plant in Michigan.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with fresh comments from Governor Youngkin