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St. Joseph County approves tax breaks for two huge projects

A rendering of the company’s Lansing, Mich. facility, which is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2024.
Ultium Cells
A rendering of the company’s Lansing, Mich. facility, which is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2024.

St. Joseph County officials on Tuesday approved tax abatements for two large-scale industrial projects that could change the economic landscape of the county.

First, the St. Joseph County Council moved to amend the already-approved tax breaks for a $3 billion EV battery plant that could be built near New Carlisle. The council approved an economic development agreement in September that would see developers get a 15-year personal property tax abatement, as well as a 10-year real property tax abatement.

General Motors first partnered with LG Energy Solutions, creating a joint venture called Ultium Cells, to build four EV battery plants in the U.S. LG, however, pulled out of a proposal to build a fourth plant late last year, leaving the project in limbo. In April, GM announced it is now working with Samsung on the plant, which local officials still hope will be built in New Carlisle.

Tuesday's council action changed the tax abatements so that they will go to General Motors should the company finalize the deal to come to St. Joseph County. If the plant comes to the area, it will be the largest business development in the county's history with an estimated $3 billion price tag and a factory that could employ more than 2,000 workers.

A final decision from General Motors is expected this summer, while the county council will hold a meeting on May 23 where it is expected to approve the final steps to grant the tax breaks.

At the same meeting, council members gave the final stamp of approval to AM General, who is expanding its McKinley Highway plant in order to fulfill a government contract to build over 20,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles for the military. AM General will receive a seven-year abatement on property taxes and a five-year abetment on taxes related to equipment purchases.

The company expects to spend around $69 million and add over 300 jobs as it plans to start production on the vehicles next year. For years, AM General manufactured Humvees for the U.S. Army, but lost out on that contract in 2015. The new contract for the JLTVs could have a long-lasting impact on the region's economic health, experts say.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.