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Battery maker LG Energy Solution considering sites for North American HQ

Holland, Mich. — LG Energy Solution is positioning its growing operation in Holland to become the company’s North American headquarters as it scales up battery manufacturing across the country.

The designation could bring an influx of white-collar and senior-level positions, building on the hundreds of advanced manufacturing jobs LG Energy Solution Michigan is creating with its $1.7 billion lithium ion battery plant expansion in Holland. LG Energy Solution Michigan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seoul, South Korea-based LG Energy Solution.

“We are seriously considering making this site the headquarters for North America,” Roger Traboulay, project manager at LG Energy Solution Michigan, said during a presentation to local developers Aug. 3 at the expansion site in Holland. “If that happens, it would bring in a whole band of directors and senior persons with [a need for] executive-level housing.”

Holland is among the eight plants across the U.S. and Canada that LG is aggressively investing to build capacity and supply chains for automakers that are launching electric vehicle lines, Automotive News reported this week. Once up and running, which is expected by mid-decade, the eight plants would have a combined 300 gigawatt-hours of electric vehicle battery production capacity.

Of those eight sites, Holland and an Arizona facility are the only two solely owned by the company, while the rest are joint ventures with major automakers. The projects represent nearly $27 billion in combined investment between LG Energy Solution and its automaker partners, which include General Motors, Stellantis, Honda and Hyundai.

“As LG Energy Solution continues to expand in North America, the Holland facility is on track to fulfill the role of a control center (i.e. a ‘Mother Factory’), providing operational support and employee education/training to other facilities in the region,” LG Energy Solution Communications Manager Val Gent said via email.

Gent did not respond to additional questions about whether Holland is competing with any other LG Energy Solution sites for a North American headquarters or how many additional jobs it would bring to Holland.

Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens said the potential for an LG Energy Solution North American headquarters would create major opportunities for the region, and add research and development and “white-collar technical” jobs along with the company’s manufacturing operations.

“LG Chem has exceeded expectations,” Owens said. “They’re hiring well above the average wage and with 100 percent paid health care, so really a great employer of choice. But if we can have some of the more white-collar technical jobs, I think it would make it so it’s a facility that has hundreds of years of staying power.”

LG Chem spun off LG Energy in 2020.

LG Energy Solution Michigan built its existing Holland battery plant in 2009. The expansion plans, which were made public in early 2022, call for 13 new buildings next to the existing plant, including a roughly 1 million-square-foot main manufacturing building. The addition is more than five times the amount of the company’s initial $303 million investment in Holland.

Construction is “substantially complete” on structural steel work on the site, and LG is projected to take possession of the new build in April, with production expected to start a year later, Traboulay said.

However, a lack of housing in the area has challenged LG’s hiring effort, causing some engineers to rent out hotels because they can’t find homes in the area, Traboulay said.

“I think there is some good work being done in housing, but it continues to be a crisis for us,” Owens said. “How are we going to continue to help our companies grow if people [who work there] are living farther and farther away because they can’t find an affordable place?”

LG Energy Solution Michigan plans to employ about 1,000 people at the new plant, which would have about four times the capacity of the existing production plant in Holland.

The Michigan Strategic Fund board supported the expansion project in March 2022 with $56.5 million in various grants as well as a 20-year renaissance zone valued at roughly $132.6 million.

 

Crain’s Grand Rapids Business Managing Editor Andy Balaskovitz contributed to this report.

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