Stitt hopes inflation act will draw VW to state
Gov. Kevin Stitt is pushing President Joe Biden’s administration to help lure “Project Connect” to Oklahoma, using the code name for an initiative widely believed to be a new Volkswagen electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant.
VW reportedly has Oklahoma on its shortlist for the site of such a plant, but the German automaker is also said to be eyeing a site in Canada.
Stitt said Friday that there are still questions about whether the company could benefit from provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping bill passed last year that prioritizes clean energy and manufacturing in the United States. Reuters reported this week that Volkswagen is waiting to hear the European Union’s response to the IRA, which could net the company over $10 billion in federal subsidies.
The IRA also could give Oklahoma the edge over Canada’s pitch if those incentives are only available for manufacturing done in the United States, Stitt said. He said there is some question about whether former President Donald Trump’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, would apply American incentives to manufacturing done in Canada.
“The whole idea behind President Biden’s initiative is to make sure manufacturing stays in the US, so we don’t want that showing up in Canada or Mexico. We want that to be in Oklahoma, in our case, but definitely the United States,” said Stitt. “And I think that the Biden administration could take credit for these jobs if we can get some help on making sure that we land it here.”
Oklahoma has earmarked almost $700 million of incentives for the project if Volkswagen decides to build its plant here.
To claim the incentives, “Project Connect” would have to spend at least $3.6 billion on its Oklahoma project. In addition, the company would need to hit hiring benchmarks beginning with at least 500 full-time workers in its first year and ramping up to 3,500 full-time staff by years four and five.
The company must commit to Oklahoma by April 15, or else the incentives will expire. State officials have publicly used the “Project Connect” name to refer to the proposed manufacturing plant because of a confidentiality agreement.